Folk Art Trompe l'Oeil Double Portrait, c. 1780-90

Folk Art trompe l'oeil reversible double portrait, oil on board depicting a man on the left and a woman on the right; when reversed a different man and woman appear; the wormy panel attached to the frame with wrought iron nails. (See photo.)

Continental, probably Spanish c. 1780-90
6- x 8-"


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Reversible double portraits such as this are usually novelty items of the "Before Marriage/ After 3 Weeks of Marriage" type, where the 'before' portraits show a happy smiling couple, and the 'after' depicts them frowning and miserable. The theme is not uncommon in ceramic, glass and pewter plates, the lids of small boxes, etc.

This example differs in that the sitters are not particularly happy or sad, regardless of the orientation. They appear to be less caricatures than portraits of actual people, suggesting a political or literary context.

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