Silhouettes

Exceptional Antique Silhouette from the Rescued Folios of Auguste Edouart, Double-Sided, Peyraud Collection
  • From the rescued folios of the great master Augustin Edouart and the famed collection of the late Paula Peyraud comes this fabulous double-sided silhouette on original folio paper. One side of the silhouette shows 3 gentlemen and the space on which Edouart had pasted another which is gone (see explanation below). The other side shows the members of the McClure family and Mrs. William Smith. This must have been one of Mrs. Jackson’s favorite folio pieces because she laid her collection stamp numerous times on both sides of the paper. It also must have been one of Ms. Peyraud’s favorites because she had this special double-sided frame made so that she could change the side to view at her whim. I’ve never found a framer who would put two frames together like this although I always have glass put on both sides when a folio silhouette is involved. Because the frame would have to be yanked apart to get to the inside, and because I know from experience that Ms. Peyraud’s framers used conservation materials in framing, the little flaws such as her special French mat where the marbled paper was inlaid into the mat has come loose do not bother me in the least. I’d rather have the silhouette in the special frame from this special collection than to worry about tiny flaws so I will not have the now seamlessly glued front and back side of the frame destroyed.

    So, here we have this fabulous folio set of profiles on Edouart’s original paper. As I’ve told you before, Mrs. Jackson acquired the folios from the Lukis family decades after the ship on which Edouart was traveling sunk to the bottom of the Bay of Guernsey. She had the folios taken apart and, where the paper was so water-damaged that it could not be used, she removed the shades from the original paper, laid them onto new card with keyholes cut into the back so that you could read Edouart’s writing on the figure, and cut out the names of the sitters from the original paper to paste onto the new card. In this case, the paper obviously had little damage except for the missing figure of Mr. James Kippen from the side with figures of only men. Edouart’s inscriptions identifying each sitter are still intact although, Edouart seemed to like to write as close to the bottom of the paper and the framing covers up some of the inscriptions….particularly the dates and places where the cutting was taken. But, you can see enough to recognize the names and they are all listed in Mrs. Jackson’s book for assurance.

    On one side of the paper we have Master Robert McClure with his hand on the back of chair in which a woman, probably his mother, is seated. The woman is identified as Mrs. Robert McClure, 108 West Regent Street. Mrs. McClure holds an open book in one hand and extends her other, beautifully cut, hand to the next figure, James McClure, Esq. James’ inscription includes the date March 3, 1832. James holds a letter out to his mother? or aunt? with one hand and holds his hat in the other hand. Behind James sits Mrs. Wm. Smith who holds an open book in one hand and her quizzing glass in the other. The quizzing glass in attached to a ribbon and worn around her neck. Mrs. Jackson tells us that these silhouettes were all cut in Glasgow, Scotland on March 3, 1832. See Jackson at 152 & 166. I have been unable to give certain genealogy history to this group. Edouart’s elegant page number is in the upper right corner and it is “69”.

    The other side of the silhouette bears the profiles of Mr. Neil Brown, Robert Laing Jr., and Rev. Edward Hume. The second line of Mr. Brown’s inscription is under the mat but Mrs. Jackson tells us that it says Greenrock, March 15, 1832. (Greenrock was apparently his Scottish hometown even though his profile was cut in Glasgow). He is noted in Jackson at 121. The second line of Mr. Laing’s inscription is, likewise, mostly hidden but Mrs. Jackson tells us it says “Royal Bank, Edinburg, March 7, 1832”. On the far right is “Rev. Edward Hume of Heriot Presbetery at Dalkeith, May 7, 1832”. He is noted in Jackson at 142. In the lower right corner is Edouart’s page number “68”.

    These silhouettes are exquisitely representative of Edouart’s best work. The hands are so very expressive, the hair wispy in all the right places, details of the ladies bonnets and bonnet adornment detailed and wonderful. The poses are classic Edouart. The cut button holes and collars for the men. All perfectly Edouart. Remember that this page of silhouettes went down with the ship and we are lucky to have it at all, much less on the original paper. The condition is really quite wonderful although not perfect. As already noted, one figure on the side of all men has disappeared. Mrs. Jackson may have removed it and framed it separately for a family member of James Kippen or it may have floated off (although the background paper does not seem to have suffered enough water-damage for that). There are assorted creases and wrinkles in the background paper and some very light staining or scuff marks. Some of the figures have a bit of lifting around the edges (which I always like to see and was likely done by Mrs. Jackson so she could record the information Edouart inscribed on the back of each figure). There is a speck of paper loss on the back of Mrs. McClure’s chair and it looks as though there is a small, repaired tear at the crook of her arm. Please see the photo where I’ve pointed these out with arrows. The ribbon from which Mrs. Smith’s quizzing glass hangs has been turned over in small areas so that you can see the white backside of the blackened paper. Again, I’ve pointed this out in one of the photos. There is a bit of paper loss and possibly a knife mark in the very lowest right corner looking from page 68 (upper right corner looking from page 69). There are surely other small flaws but they are so minor that they aren’t worth mentioning.

    The double-sided frame is molded wood and stained almost black with a wax finish that blends the frame well in a collection of period framed pieces. Plexiglass covers both sides which makes for a much lighter weight than putting glass on both sides. Ms. Peyraud had 2 hanging loops to both the top and bottom so you can hang it to display either side. The frame is in very good shape with a little expected scuffing. As I said before, some of the marbled paper inlaid in the French mat has loosened. This is the most noticeable of the apologies but, in my mind, not worth the possibility of having the frame damaged by prying the two matching sides apart. The inner mat is a quarter-round covered with the same marbled paper that it inlaid in the mat. Framed size is 18 ½” x 15”; sight size is 16 ¼” x 12 ¼” and the size of the paper is about 13 ½” x 9 ½”.

    This is a really special Edouart from a really special collection. Paula Fentress Peyraud (1947-2008) was an avid collector from a young age. She was a reference librarian at the Chappaqua Public Library and her voracious love of reading prompted her to amass an important collection of books, manuscripts, autograph letters of 18th through the 20th century. As a lover of art and people, she also put together an important collection of paintings, silhouettes, drawings and prints. Luckily, this avid collector lived in her family’s substantial house which she filled with her collections—even to the point where she added on to the house for more room to collect. The works of art she collected were of high quality, from the best collections and mostly portraits. She obviously loved characters and the idea of collecting people. Her collection of silhouettes included the best known artists as well as some folk pieces.

    #5802    $3750

    Provenance: Paula Peyraud Collection; Mrs. F. Nevil Jackson.
    Reference: Jackson, Mrs. F. Nevil, Ancestors in Silhouette by August Edouart, The Bodley Head, London; John Lane Co., New York, 1921, at 121, 142, 146, 152 & 166.

    Please see the Silhouettist Bios page for more information about Auguste Edouart.