Silhouettes

Antique Silhouette of Begging Poodle by Master Silhouettist Augustin Edouart
  • If you follow my website or have seen any of my talks, you probably know that Augustin Edouart was meticulous about his silhouette art. He prided himself (and rightfully so) for cutting the most lifelike of figures. He kept duplicates of each of his silhouettes in folios. In 1849, Edouart left America on a ship named Oneida bound for the British Isles. He took all his possessions with him. Oneida sank in the Guernsey Bay. Luckily, everyone survived but Edouart’s precious silhouettes, the work of a lifetime, sank to the bottom of the bay. A few were rescued and, when Edouart left Guernsey for Calais, France where he would live the rest of his life, he left all the recovered duplicate folios with the family who cared for him in Guernsey. The duplicates that Edouart left with the Lukis family eventually made their way to Mrs. F. Nevil Jackson who cataloged them and restored them from their waterlogged condition. Mrs. Jackson sold the duplicates in groups and singles and they come onto the market with enough regularity to keep the many collectors of Edouart happy.

    That, in a nutshell, is the story of the duplicates. However, a new and exciting discovery recently surfaced from a Parisian bookseller: Edouart’s personal folio of “Scraps” in a book labeled “Animaux”. This is the most Edouart exciting discovery in a century! Mrs. Jackson discovered the duplicate folios in the first decade of the 20th century. It appears that Edouart took this scrapbook with him to Calais. It was filled with figures of dogs, horses, toys, mythical characters, floral sprays, and on and on. It looks like Edouart used the book to keep practice figures of unusual forms that he might have been commissioned to add to conversation silhouettes as well as figures that he cut for his own amusement and for his traveling exhibition. Animaux was a treasure trove of incredible pieces. I have been so lucky to acquire more than 200 figures removed from this book. In the coming months, I will be offering these mind-boggling silhouettes for sale. They will always be lightly mounted on acid-free materials and framed in period frames. The reverse of the mountings will always be stamped with a specially made stamp for items from this book and also with my collection stamp. The reason for my insistence on mounting and stamping is because these figures are so unusual (although distinctly from Edouart’s hand) that I want to help future generations authenticate them because they can be traced back to me.

    Here is an absolutely outstanding silhouette of a poodle “sitting pretty”. Edouart did an exceptional job depicting the curly hair of poodles. I’ve included a photo of 19th century poodles so you can see spot on Edouart was at depicting the 19th century “lion cut” which is somewhat different than the clips we see today as it leaves the hair on snout long, long hair on the neck and the middle torso clipped short and then long hair on the back legs and up the derrière to above the tail, tail shaved with a puff of long hair at the end. It is so interesting to see have these breeds have changed over the years and how grooming clips have changed. This smart begging poodle is framed in a period maple frame that measures 6 1/8” x 7 ¾” with a sight size of 2 5/8” x 4 ½”. The figure is in beautiful condition and measures about 3 ¾” tall x 2” wide. If you have a poodle in your life (or even if you don’t), you really should have an Edouart poodle on your wall!

    #6022     Sale Pending

    References:

    Edouart, Augustin, A Treatise on Silhouette Likenesses, Longman & Co., Paternoster-Row; and J. Bolster, Patrick-Street, Cork, 1835.

    Jackson, Mrs. E. Nevill, Silhouettes A History and Dictionary of Artists, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1981 (published as an unabridged republication of Jackson’s Silhouette: Notes and Dictionary, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1938), at 98-99.

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