Nov 162012

I recently published a small volume of paper cut-outs made by my ancestor in the latter part of the Eighteenth Century. You can find it on Amazon here (UK), and here (rest of the world). It is also available on Kindle, though I have to say that I am not convinced that an e-book is the best format for intricate and tiny illustrations like paper cut-outs.

But the point of the post is this: I end the book with an illustration which completely baffles me. It is this:                        

In the book I have suggested that it appears to represent a giant angel blowing a trumpet from the rooftop, above a room in which a lady is taking tea; a man emerges from a building opposite carrying what appears to be a watering can, while a dog scampers ahead….

I would be intrigued as to how others interpret the scene – everything else which my ancestor Richard Hall cut out were pictorial representations of his everyday life, the world about him. So I have deer parks, horses, troops, a sword, country houses and inns – but what on earth is this one all about? Your suggestions please (and with luck, just for once, my comments page will not consist almost entirely of spam from people flogging Ugg Boots and fake designer watches, scarves and handbags….).

Thanks for your help!


Post script: Thanks for the responses! I suspect there is some significance in the outsized angel/ weather vane, because Richard could easily have made it more to scale. I also think it may have been illustrating a poem or nursery rhyme, since forgotten. I have trawled through a variety of poems featuring weather vanes, but so far without success!

  11 Responses to “Puzzle time – a paper cut out signifying …. what exactly?”


    Ah, that cut – I wrecked my brain about it as well. It’s a little far fetched, but how about a fire alarm? Guy on rooftop alerts the neighbour, who comes running with the watering can…? I don’t think it’s an angel, though. I hope somebody can shed some light on this. 🙂

    PS: No worries, the book doesn’t lose on Kindle. I can see all details of the papercuts, and as promised, I’ll review the book asap.


    Well, the only element that isn’t ‘daily life’ is the angel.
    A weather vane, perhaps?
    I know vanes are much older, but have no idea of what they were like (scale, private locations, subject matter) in the 18thC.

    I’ve also got some vague poetic or lit. reference nagging in the back of my mind. But I’ll have to think on that.

    Fun image!


    Either it’s a depiction of the Second Coming (lol!) or that angel is actually a statue in the roof so no one’s bothered by it.


    Hm, an interesting puzzle! Maybe the watering can is actually a teakettle, and the angel might be a weathervane?

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    The houses do not look English except as gazebos and such on a large estate. Those outside steps make it look as though this is a place in India, or to a room over the carriage house. We would say the room over the garage.
    The angel is probably a weather vane but the position of the figures makes it look as though it is summoning them to tea.
    One day you will come across a paper or reference to something and you will have an Eureka moment.
    I do like the cut out pictures. It is amazing the deicacy and art he could transmit with a pair of scissos and a piece of paper.


    I’m inclined to think it’s a summer house with an outsize wind vane, and the gardener coming out of the green house or orangery…


    Suicide attempt? Someone throwing themselves off the roof? The size of the figure on the roof seems indicative of a person.


    The image is full of intrigue, and the comments interesting too. I looked first to the building on the left, which appears to be a garden building or modest banqueting house, which were often raised to give a better outlook, and used for all sorts of activity. I too thought initially that the figure on the roof could be an angel. Taking another view, as a weather vane or not, the figure could be the Pied Piper. The image could therefore be showing some sort of gathering in the garden building where the figure on the roof is enticing people out towards? The dog for that matter could have been added to generally point in the direction of movement, and the gentleman could be delivering more supplies – more oil for lamps, wine etc. At any rate, the suggestion of the image being a pied piper might lead people along a different train of thought, I look forward to seeing this one develop!


    To me your angel looks like the goddess Fame, as does the picture of the weather vane.

    And the building Fame stands on top of looks to me like what in Dutch is called a ‘theekoepel’. These are special buildings in the gardens of countryhouses for taking tea. Most were built in the late 17th century and the 18th century.

    The shadow side of fame is gossip, and tea and gossip were seen as going together in the 18th century.

    Might that be a possible direction for interpreting the cut-out?

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