Silent Companion: Standing Figure of a Boy holding a Letter (dummy board)

Spanish School
National Trust Inventory Number 902357.2

Category Art / Oil paintings
Date circa 1600
Materials Canvas and wood
Measurements 1003 x 559 mm (39 1/2 x 22 in)
Place of origin
Collection Castle Drogo, Devon (Accredited Museum)
On show at Castle Drogo, Devon, South West, National Trust

This wooden painted figure standing alone shows a boy holding an alphabet board without the letters ‘J’ or ‘U’ or ‘W’. It looks as if the figure has been cut out of a provincial Spanish portrait of about 1600 and then mounted on an ebonised wood base. These type of pictures are not really paintings but form part of the furniture, called dummy boards or ‘silent companions’, as Vita Sackville-West called them. They were usually found in entrance halls of houses, as greeters, or in front of fireplaces and acted as firescreens.

Summary description

Oil painting on canvas laid down on wood, Silent Companion: Standing Figure of a Boy holding a Letter (dummy board), Spanish School, circa 1600. One of a pair of dummy board figures, collectively known as ' Silent Companions', representing a Boy. The figure presumably cut out of a provincial Spanish portrait of about 1600, mounted on ebonised wood base.


This item forms part of the original Drewe family collection at Castle Drogo. It was transferred to the National Trust in 2008.

Marks and inscriptions


Makers and roles

Spanish School, artist

Related items

Place of origin
Materials Canvas (10101)
Wood (128140)
Category Art / Oil paintings (12620)
Collection Castle Drogo, Devon (Accredited Museum) (7663)
Periods 16th century (6296)
Maker Spanish School (53)
Object Type Dummy board (16)

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