Silhouettes

Exquisitely Cut Terrier Silhouette from Edouart’s Personal Scrapbook
  • 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, in recent years, a new and exciting discovery 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 appears that 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. I will be offering these mind-boggling silhouettes for sale. They will always be lightly mounted on acid-free materials and, in the tradition of Edouart, framed in period maple 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.

    I love this low, long shaggy pup! I’ve been pondering breeds which is always a bit difficult when you consider how breeds have changed over the years. The fact that he is a low-rider makes me first think of terrier—bred for chasing vermin down into holes. (Realize that I spent 17 years with the King of low-riders, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, aka The Queen’s Dog, but that is certainly not a shaggy breed.) I think Dandie Dinmont is a good estimate within terrier breeds. The aspect that makes me doubt my choice is that this pup seems to have short, erect ears whereas the Dandie Dinmont long ears—and I can’t find evidence that they were cropped at any time in the history of the breed. So, I could keep researching and adapting my choice, but I don’t think it is such a good use of my time at this point. If you have a different idea of the breed, please send me an email and we’ll ponder on it.

    Whatever breed this pup is, Edouart took great care in depicting all of that lovely shaggy hair. He will be a great addition to any collection. He is housed in a period maple frame with a gilt liner. The frame measures 8 3/16” x 8 ¼”. The figure measures 3 ¾” long x 2 ¾” tall. Mid-19th century.

    #6176    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.