Exceptional Silhouettes of What-Not Shelf & Terrier from Edouart
  • If you follow our website or have seen any of Peggy’s talks, you probably know that Augustin Edouart was meticulous about his silhouette art. If you would like a refresher about his story, follow the link below for “Silhouettist Bios” for a summary of why he is one of the most important and prolific silhouette artists in history – it is an incredible story. And, on top of that, a new and exciting discovery surfaced a few years ago from a Parisian bookseller: Edouart’s personal folio of “Scraps” in a book titled “Animaux”. This is the most exciting Edouart discovery in a century! And the dog presented here is one of the totally unique scraps taken from Edouart’s personal folio.

    A new and exciting discovery surfaced a few years ago from a Parisian bookseller: Edouart’s personal folio of “Scraps” in a book labeled “Animaux”. This is the most exciting discovery in a century! Mrs. Jackson discovered the duplicate folios in the first decade of the 20th century in Guernsey where Edouart left them. However, it appears that Edouart took this book with him to Calais, France. 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. We have been so lucky to acquire more than 200 figures removed from this book. We have sold and will continue to sell these figures, always lightly mounted on acid-free materials, and framed in period maple frames as Edouart would have insisted. The reverse of the mountings are always stamped with a specially made stamp for items from this book and also with Peggy’s collection stamp. The reason for our insistence on mounting and stamping is because these figures are so unusual (although distinctly from Edouart’s hand) that we want to help future generations authenticate them because they can be traced back to Peggy.

    Some of the figures in Animaux are important but very small and, so, really don’t stand well alone. They are the types of pieces that Edouart would have included in a conversation silhouette with a background of either sepia watercolor or lithograph. Some works just scream for a background so, in the manner of Edouart, who commissioned most, if not all, of the backgrounds he used, we commission artists to create the perfect background. The background of this conversation piece was created by Thomas MacPherson of New York. Thomas MacPherson is an artist and a retired Professor of Art at SUNY Geneseo. He received a B.A. from the State University of New York-College at Oswego in 1973 and an M.F.A. from the University of South Carolina in 1976. He has been a Professor of Studio Art at the State University of New York-College at Geneseo since 1985 and attained the rank of Professor in 2003. Professor MacPherson has worked in a variety of media including watercolor, egg tempera, oil, all of the printmaking processes and drawing media, including silver point. His watercolors and prints have been widely exhibited in international, national and regional juried exhibitions where they have won numerous awards. Solo exhibitions of his work have been shown throughout the country including New York City, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester, NY, Cleveland, Ohio, Raleigh, NC, Columbia, SC to name but a few. We are very pleased with how Thomas captured the feeling of the mid-19th century in which Edouart worked.

    This composition includes the most detailed what-not shelf (complete with what-nots) that can be imagined to have been cut with scissors. The shelf is only 2 ½” x 1 5/8” tall. In that tiny space, Edouart has cut not only the detail of the shelf itself but also a battle between two Romanesque soldiers, one on a rearing horse and one standing, both with full armor with helmets and long spears; the bust of a horned man with a beard; an urn with two handles; a coiled snake ready to strike a man with Romanesque costume; another coiled snake (we think); a bust of a woman with a hairstyle that could be from ancient Rome or the 1820s (we’re betting on Rome since that seems to be his theme); and Atlas carrying the world on his back. Wow! That’s one intricate, very small silhouette! Edouart sometimes doodled on the reverse of his figures and this shelf is one of those rare “doodled” silhouettes. We show the reverse to you in the photos below and the written material that will travel with this conversation silhouette will also include a photo of the reverse.

    The pup in this piece is a terrier breed, we’re going with Cairn, West Highland White or Norwich. Remember that breeds have changed appearances since the 1840s so this pup might not meet the standards of today’s breed. Thomas has seated this dog on a little stool with carved knees and paw feet. The dog’s person must have put the little stool just for him to gaze out of the window. We are sure he is waiting for his person to come home, just like your dog waits at the window for you!

    We have framed this wonderful conversation silhouette in a beautiful period bird’s-eye maple frame with a stepped gilt liner. The figuring in the frame is so bold that you can feel the bump of the eyes as you run your fingers across the surface. As expected, there is some light splitting of the veneer but it is all very stable and not noticeable . The frame measures 9 ½” x 11 ½” with a sight size of 5 1/8” x 7 ¼”. The silhouettes from Edouart’s Animaux were cut between 1826 and at least 1845. This is a very special piece.

    #6922     $1950


    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.