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 creature presented here is one of the totally unique scraps taken from Edouart’s personal folio.
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 as 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.
Edouart had a side that seemed to love the mythical creatures that inhabit our dreams. We know this because of the descriptions given of his traveling exhibition. We don't know what happened to the exhibition pieces but we do have his published book where he describes a composition titled "The Temptation of St. Anthony" which had all manner of scary creatures and another titled "The Night Mare." We are pleased to have a few of his mythical creatures from Animaux. These two very special wizards cried for a sepia background so we commissioned one of Thomas MacPherson of New York in the manner of those that Edouart would have commissioned. We think our artist really nailed this one. The light-colored wizard leading the walk is possibly unique because it is the only we have ever seen that is cut from tissue paper, making the figure quite translucent! Edouart sometimes scribbled faces and such onto the backs of his silhouettes. We always receive these Animaux figures in folio sleeves already removed from the scrapbook pages. When we first saw this translucent wizard, we assumed it was one of his black figures that he had scribbled on and had been placed in our folio page with the back facing up. Imagine Peggy’s surprise when she removed the silhouette to place on the commissioned background and found that it could be seen through! We are very excited about this great discovery and we hope that the collector who becomes the final buyer is as excited to have this unique silhouette as we are to present it!
Condition of the silhouette figures are excellent but for a loss to part of the translucent wizard’s tail. The period maple frame has expected scratches and possibly a tiny bit of veneer loss. Framed size is 11” x 9.75” with a sight size of 7.25” x 6”. The silhouettes from Edouart’s Animaux were cut between 1826 and at least 1845.
Provenance: Oliver de Prat
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.