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 (an 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 book 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 figures that he cut to practice unusual forms that he might have been commissioned to add to conversation silhouettes as well as figures that he cut for his own amusement. The book 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 (perhaps years) 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.
This listing offers a fun grouping of a candlestand-type table full of accessories of great detail and a small dog “sitting pretty”, perhaps trying to see what’s on the table, or just hoping that someone will give me something from the table. The table and its accoutrements are cut with great detail and have made it through the 150 + years post-shipwreck in remarkable condition. Edouart gave the table paw feet with a turned base. On the table stands a tall Empire period column lamp—likely a Carcel lamp using oil in the base which was drawn up a heavy wick. The wonderful domed shade may have been glass or possibly vellum. To the right of the table sits an open sewing box, complete with its leather or ribbon strap which allowed the top to be left open without having it fall back and break the hinges. The detail of the sewing box includes tiny feet and a ring pull on top. Just to the left of the lamp sits a table tray with what may be a desk set but the center object looks like a candleholder with candle which makes me uncertain of the other objects. To the far left of the table sits a book on a book stand. Sitting up under the table is a sweet begging pup. His ears are back and his front legs hanging down as he begs for something to eat or play with. Edouart captured the balancing act between long body, long tail and back feet, all working to keep the butt firmly planted to the ground. Edouart took great care in depicting the dog’s paws just as he always took great care in depicting a human sitter’s hands.
The figures are in wonderful condition but for some light white moisture stains from their time at the bottom of the Bay. The table stands 6 ¾” to the top of the lamp x 5 3/8” wide. The pup is 2 ½” in height. The silhouettes are lightly mounted with a few drops of water-based, acid-free glue onto acid-free cream-colored paper which is then glued onto acid-free ragboard (acid free glue, of course). All framed in a lovely period bird’s eye maple frame with gilt liner. Framed size 10 ¾” x 10 5/8” with a sight size of 7” x 7”. Mid-19th century.
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.