Paper Cutting (student album of kindergarten work, Froebel Gift #13)
Album of paper cutting exercises, ca 1890s. Gilt-stamped pebbled cloth concertina fold album, 9.5 x 9.5 x 2.5 inches. 39 panels, three with designs on both sides. Very Good. One panel has a repaired tear down the side, fortunately not affecting the image area. Typical rubbing, light soil and offsetting (to pleasing effect, in some cases). The album dates to the early-mid 1890s.
A total of 42 paper cutting examples executed in a limited color palette—more muted than typical kindergarten work, but with subtle variations in the darker tones that are well suited to the sophisticated examples (and handsome gilt album). The work was executed by student Anna Olga Müller, the daughter of two German naturalized citizens of considerable social and economic status living in Haddonfield, New Jersey, just across the river from Philadelphia. She was born in 1881 and likely completed this at about 12 years old.
Number 13 in Froebel’s sequence of gifts and occupations, the progression from geometric exercises to fully realized scenic pictures helps illustrate the transformative intention behind the paper gifts, bridging 2- and 3-dimensional space by moving the universal grid, the foundation of kindergarten work, from being inscribed on a table to being implied and manipulatable in a piece of paper. The progressive work is accompanied by small grids in the corner of alternating panels that provide a guide to the cutting patterns, helping to articulate the transformation of form. Three extra panels of work executed on the versos present naturalistic and representational images.