Silhouettes

Antique Silhouette of Dogs from Edouart's Personal Folio Animaux
  • 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.

    Many of the silhouettes in Animaux are small and need something to give them context when framed. I have commissioned a wonderful artist to create watercolor backgrounds in the manner of Edouart. The sepia watercolor backgrounds must really be said to be “in the manner of the artists that Edouart commissioned” for backgrounds as he painted very few backgrounds, if any, himself. Here we have two dogs (a terrier and either a small setter or spaniel) lounging in their home, gazing out of the window. Perhaps their mistress is off riding and they long to go with her. Perhaps they are bored because the children are off to school. Whatever story you would conjure (and I love to conjure stories for this artwork), you will love gazing at these peaceful pups as they keep a watchful eye on the outside world. Amanda has done an incredible job depicting the style Edouart would have commissioned for his own clients, both in tone and style. Like all of the silhouettes I offering from Edouart’s book, the figures are glued with acid-free glue to the acid-free watercolor paper which is in turn glued (acid-free) to the backing ragboard. This is to make it next to impossible to later separate the watercolor paper from the ragboard with its identifying marks. I am absolute in my work at thwarting fakers and will not allow these beautiful but modern backgrounds to be sold as painted by Edouart. This is a modern interpretation of sepia backgrounds Edouart would have used – but with rea; Edouart silhouettes. The ragboard backing bears the identifying stamp, my collection stamp and Amanda Fulk’s signature and date. The period maple frame measures 10 3/8” x 8 ¾” with a sight size of 7 ½” x 5 ½”. The sitting dog ono the left has a small hole on his snoot. I’ve smooted the black paper from the reverse and glued a bit of Edouart’s own blacked paper behind the hole. It shows in both the photos and in real-life as a tiny white speck. Figures are mid 19th century (1826-1845) with a 2017 background. A short biography of Amanda Fulk is part of the written package that comes with this silhouette.

    #6033    $1450

    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.