Paper cutting art
The Holland Open Air Museum owns a representative collection of paper cutting art produced in the Netherlands over the years. Paper cuttings were made wherever people had access to paper and a pair of scissors or a knife. The oldest Dutch paper cuttings in the museum’s collection date back to the seventeenth century. Originally, paper cutting was the preserve of well-off members of society, as they were the first to have access to paper. It was only later that it became accessible to ordinary people.
The paper cuttings cover a wide range of themes: some were made purely for decoration or perhaps to celebrate a marriage, while others depicted family coats of arms, occupations and themes linked to politics or the House of Orange. The Bible was also an important source of inspiration. Paper cuttings were produced in various formats, from small pieces through to works the size of a newspaper sheet. There were hardly any guides or patterns for paper cutters to refer to. Paper cutting was an individual pastime; prior to 1945 there was no contact between people who engaged in this activity. Whereas in the past it was mainly men who produced such creations, nowadays paper cutting is mostly performed by women. There is a great deal of diversity within Dutch paper cutting and the works also vary considerably in terms of their artistic quality. Under this theme we throw the spotlight on a number of paper cuttings.