The 'Housewife with her Broom' was according to Ned Ward, in 'The London Spy' 1700, 'very usually set up in Great Families as good Examples to Servant Wenches, to make 'em mindful of their Cleanliness'. One such sweeper featured amongst the 'cut out pieces to stand upon the stairs' that was inventoried at Cobham Hall, Kent (1672), and noted by John Abdy Repton in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' November 1845 (p. 590) as 'a painting...cut out of a board'. Such wooden templates 'large as life' have also been known since the 19th century as 'picture board dummies'.
Dummy-boards had a variety of purposes, but primarily they were used as whimsical decoration in private houses, where they depicted maid servants or butlers who welcomed the guests. They were also used to disguise empty fireplaces in the summer. A pair of dummy-boards symbolising Vanity and Industry (Industry shown holding a broom) in the costume of the mid-17th century, were formerly at Sutton Park, Kent and illustrated in C. Graham's Dummy Boards and Chimney Boards, Aylesbury, 1988, p. 13.
A dummy board of similar subject was sold Christie's London, 8 February 1996, lot 9.