Represented as Edouart? Laughable

Sold by James Adam & Sons in Dublin, Ireland–where they really should know something about Edouart’s work.

Lot 225: AUGUSTE EDOUART (FRENCH 1789-1861) Full length portrait of a gentleman standing with arms folded in an interior Silhouette with pencilled background, 30.5 x 23cm Inscribed with date verso ‘Sept 16th 1840’. Sold for €400 plus buyers premium of 23 1/3%.

Tell me readers, how do you know this isn’t by Edouart? The auction also sold 4 perfectly wonderful Edouarts–so even if they had never seen an Edouart (which is unlikely) they had 4 to compare this gent to.

The same auction sold this perfectly wonderful Edouart in original frame. This one was a bargain at €700 + buyer’s premium. I am assuming (and hoping) that the buyer of the gilded gent knew it was not Edouart’s work. It is attributable to Frith or possible Seville, but never Edouart.

What is wrong with this “Edouart”?

I always wonder why auctioneers don’t take advantage of what is usually a free service I offer, telling them whether these things are real or fake. But they seldom do–so today we have a pop quiz! Please tell us all the ways we know this silhouette is a faked “Edouart”. I will say this test is a little harder than usual. But, it still can be spotted by those who study these.

From comments (that don’t show up, even after I approve),

B. says:

Oh, the pressure is on. I hope I don’t screw this up!

Where is the watercolor background? The signature doesn’t look quite right and lack of location. Doesn’t he include that (but maybe not all the time)? No button holes. The mother is missing a foot.

I would love to see what others think!

Let’s read more ideas before I respond.

Lesson explained

Sadly, no one else ventured an analysis so I’ll give mine.  These are difficult and the reason that one should seek help before spending hard earned money.  But, if you look at Edouart’s real signatures, this one jumps out as wrong.  Admittedly, Edouart had slight differences over the 20+ years of his career but this signature is too round and written with too much care.  Another very important point required a small bit of research on my part.  I googled Harriet Adams Edouart and found the same silhouette with a better close-up of the signature.  The ink is black.  As I have tried to hammer into your heads, Edouart used iron gall ink and all iron gall ink of the 19th century has turned brown.  If you look at the picture the auction house provides of the reverse, you will see an inscription on the back that looks like Edouart’s writing and is brown.  One might jump on the apparently authenticity of the inscription as evidence that the silhouette is authentic, but the inscription on the reverse is clearly on a separate piece of paper or card that is likely glued to the back of the silhouette card. It could have easily been taken from a real Edouart of Mrs, Harriet and Robert Adams.  Why would someone do this?  Well, silhouettes taken by Edouart in the South (this one says New Orleans) are quite rare and a hot commodity.  Perhaps the real one was damaged and someone thought they could get more money adding the authentic inscription on the reverse of a fake silhouette than they could get with the real, damaged silhouette. 

Secondly, in 1844, Edouart was highlighting his silhouettes with white chalk lines to define clothing and hair details.  There is no embellishment here.  And although these figures are cut better than most of the fakes we see, the boy looks like a miniature man, his jacket has no cut button-holes, and, although a space has been cut to insert the white collar, there has never been white paper inserted there.  If a piece of paper had been glued there and lost, we would see glue stains.  Also, if you look at the hair of the figures, you will see that it is cut with sharp angles where as Edouart’s cutting was very smooth.  He also would have cut the hair with wispy strands or locks around the edges.  I don’t know the height of these figures but they look like they might be a tad too tall for Edouart’s standard (where an adult man would be around 7 inches tall).  None of the figures have eyelashes, whereas Edouart always cut tiny eyelashes.  I can’t see the paper well, but I would bet dollars to donuts that the background paper is wood-pulp paper (made after Edouart retired from cutting). 

So, the lesson on this silhouette is finished.  I hope it helps you in the future.  I have another coming up soon!

Research found another photo with close up of black in signature.
Inscription on the reverse is totally different writing and ink as “signature” and it is obviously a separate card attached to back.

Another Fake Puffy

I really don’t like exposing fakes–I’d rather be able to say that I educated the audience for silhouettes enough that blatant fakes aren’t sold as real. But here is one that just sold on ebay for $407 + $18 shipping. If you were the unlucky person who bid high on this, maybe you can use the ebay guarantee to get your money back. But, for goodness sake, don’t take too long! I must also note that the silhouette was possibly created by an artist who recreates the period look for people who just want the look. Once these newly produced items get into the market, they get sold and resold until the person selling them thinks he/she is selling a genuine 19th century piece. That brings us to a different problem of sellers selling things they know nothing about. As a buyer/collector, you have to educate yourself so you don’t get screwed.

First clue is a biggie–Puffy Sleeve Artist cut the heads of sitters away from paper (hollow cut silhouette) and everything else was drawn or painted on the paper below and around the cutting. The head of this silhouette appears to be painted, not cut.

“Mike” says, Thank you for your advice.
My wife and I are just collectors, and rely on the dealer being honest, but in some cases they weren’t. Over the years we have educated ourselves.
It’s to bad , because that keeps people away from trusting people.
We have always enjoyed looking at your website and always felt comfortable buying from you. Best and thank you. Mike

Thank you Mike for your comment! I appreciate your trust in me. Unfortunately, some dealers are not honest but most of the problems are that dealers are not educated about what they are selling. It is hard being a generalist dealer because no one can know everything about everything. That is why I specialize. I sell things outside of my specialty but I can and do research everything. I so appreciate your comments!

Your turn to say “real” or “fake”

Please send comments here or to my Facebook page So, you might have guessed since they are on the blog, that these silhouettes are all fakes. I’ve gone back and numbered the images below for ease in discussing them. Number 1 has a nicely cut watch-chain and watch hanging from the gent’s jacket, but none of the other details are the quality of Edouart’s cutting. Numbers 1 & 2 are supposedly four relatives. The backgrounds on both are too simplistic for Edouart, Edouart did not inscribe the names of his sitters on the front of commissioned silhouettes and the ink is much too black to be the iron gall ink that Edouart used. The hands in both 1 & 2 are in positions that allow the cutter to avoid showing detail although Edouart was very detailed in hands (which he thought the most important part). The cutter of these first two silhouettes turned out a lot of fakes, always [or, now it seems to be almost always] with dates that Edouart was in America (which are more valuable to Americans). Oddly the first three conversation silhouettes have no date at all…..I don’t know of a real commissioned Edouart without a date. The cutter made quite good silhouettes but they weren’t Edouart’s style. Number 3 depicting two men also suffers the problems of a simplistic background and black ink. This pair gave me pause as they do have rather good hands. I can’t figure out why the guy on the left is holding an oil can (okay, maybe it’s something else but it looks odd and it’s an accessory I never saw used by Edouart). Their clothes are pretty good but where are Edouart’s signature button holes? That goes for the gents in the first two pair. Oddly, the auction descriptions for numbers 1,2 & 3 say they are watercolor silhouettes–Edouart only did cut-out silhouettes (cut & paste). Number 4 went across the auction block on September 24 and was passed. Apparently, the consignor decided to lower the reserve because October 28, it sold. Same problems as last time I report–simplistic background, sitter’s name wouldn’t be inscribed on front of commissioned silhouette, the ink is signature is black. None of Edouart’s wonderful detail in the cutting–although she does have 4 fingers. No fly away strands of hair, no flow to her dress, her face is very flat. Number 5–egads! Please read about fake silhouettes with the impressed stamp “PEALE’S MUSEUM” under a spread eagle on my website “Silhouettist Bios“. There is also a very good article written by Anne Verplanck, former curator at Winterthur Museum, “Peales Museum Silhouettes“. Read one of those articles so you don’t get caught with these easy to spot fakes–you just have to know the key. It is an interesting story too! Number 6 has been thoroughly discussed on my facebook page and I thank all of you who played that game.

1. Coming up at auction. Real or fake? UPDATE: The silhouette above sold for $220 + 25% buyers premium.
2. Coming up at auction–if you got the first one correct, this should be no problem for you because all sitters are from same family. UPDATE: The silhouette above sold for $360 + 25% buyers premium.
3. Coming up at auction–Real or Fake? UPDATE: The silhouette above sold for $330 + 25% buyers premium.
4. Since this one didn’t sell last week, she’s being offered again! UPDATE: The silhouette above sold for $410 + 25% buyers commission. This is the silhouette’s second time on the block in just over one month. It was passed the first time.
5. These two have an impressed stamp saying, “PEALE’S MUSEUM” under a spread eagle. Real or Fake? UPDSTE; This pair of super fakes sold for $250 + 25% buyers premium.
6. How about this one? I had to study it for a while. UPDATE; This silhouette sold at a different auction house for $300 + 27%.
Signature for the silhouette above. It is blurry on the auction listing but it still tells the tale.

Yep, Another Fake Coming Up!

I just watched this fake Edouart sell at auction for $850 ($976 including buyer’s premium! I hope the buyer is not one of my readers! There is another fake coming up…but, at the moment, I can’t remember where I saw it so I can’t yet get a photo to you.

Just a warning that yet another fake Edouart is coming up. The “type” is familiar. They always carry the American years that he was here. They always have the name of the sitter on the front and generally have black ink. I can’t see this one closely enough to tell the color of the ink but those that don’t have black ink seem to have been signed in brown watercolor that widened as it was signed. Most are well cut silhouettes (which always makes me wonder why the faker didn’t just go out under his/her own name) but the style is not Edouart’s. This one is not well cut–at least not by Edouart’s standards. The cutting for the hand is not bad though.

19th antique antique silhouettes art artis artist artists artwork attributions century collecting collections collectors dealers die-stamp ebay edouart eye fake folk fraud georgian horse internet jewelry lady lover's miniature. museum opinions photograph portrait research researching saddle scholarship scientific selling shows side sidesaddle signature evidence silhouette silhouettes testing

You Didn’t Buy These, Did You?

I am really trying to ignore these super fakes. Calling them out makes me feel bad but I really hate when someone spends hard-earned money on something that isn’t what they think. I hope my readers have learned to analyze what comes up for sale with the basic Edouart facts I’ve harped on forever. I keep hoping that auctioneers will use my free service to just take a quick look to say “it’s real” or “it’s fake.” A few do but most sell things blindly without even trying to learn about some difficult items. Let’s face it, nobody can know everything about everything. That is why I specialize and it isn’t really hard to find someone who can help.

Caveat Emptor, my readers! Buyer Beware! It really makes me sick at my stomach to think that somebody paid for the pieces below.

Now, kind readers, tell me why we know these are not real Edouarts. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

The lovely above sold for $2,318
The one above only sold for $854

Do not buy!

I’m just going to say, don’t buy this pair of fake Doyle silhouettes.  Don’t blame the seller because everyone can not know everything about every category.  But the cutting of these silhouettes is very inferior to the work of Doyle.Ebay listing of fake Doyle silhouettes  I messaged the buyer to tell her nicely that they are not real.

Here is my message to her: “I am sorry but think you should know that the pair of silhouettes you are offering are reproductions. They were made in the early decades of the 20th century when interest in antique silhouettes was at its height because of pioneer collectors/scholars. A number of companies began making repros that were meant to be sold as such. As time passed, these became aged looking and began being sold as antique–19th century. If you take them out of the frames you will see that what is meant to look like reverse painted glass mats is (if I remember correctly from last time I opened a pair like this) actually printed on either thin matboard or on the silhouette paper. I’m sorry I can’t remember exactly about the mats, but I do remember that they are not painted glass. These silhouettes are inferior to the ones that Doyle and/or cut. They would have originally had a label on the back but that is almost always missing now.”

Here is her response: “You are incorrect these are original cut silouettes by the welknown artist Doyle. They are signed by the artist in pencil. They have been in my family for over 100 years.”

So, if they were in her family for 100 years, that says they were in her family since about 1920.  That is right about the time that reproductions of 19th century were being made and sold. Doyle died in 1828.  As I said, we can’t expect all people to know everything about everything.  My goal is to educate.  Right now, I’m trying to educate you not to buy repros and fakes–unless you are paying appropriately for what you are buying.

The Fake Edouarts Keep on Coming!

fake bust 01-401726160104The fake Edouarts on ebay never end.  Today’s fake is a bust-length. You likely have no reason to recognize Edouart’s bust termination line because he did so few.  I will add some real ones for you to compare–but even without that specialized knowledge, look for the problems. First, no eyelash. Since Edouart cut nice delicate eyelashes, you should see one. Second, Edouart cut away a sliver of a gent’s silhouette to depict the white collar. This white collar is chalked in–you have to enlarge and look closely at the edge of the white where you can see how the chalk goes into the black. Third, whether it looks real, don’t trust “granny notes” as if they are proof. I don’t know whether the collection label is legit or not. I found a couple of unrelated pieces of art that are said to have a provenance of Arthur De La Poer Rowbothem but haven’t seen the labels. I know that collection labels were faked in the early decades of the 20th century. I have seen multiples of a collection label for a collection that never existed…I can’t tell you anything about this one. The written inscription is in brown ink…when there is no reason for the ink not to be black since Arthur De La Poer Rowbothem was still alive in 1954–to late for iron gall ink to be necessary. I can’t read all of the inscription but I can “original inscription on Back of card.”  I have no reason to know that the inscription naming the sitter and artist exist at all or can be authenticated.  What I have reason to know is that this silhouette is not by Edouart.  If you want to see this item, ebay search 401726160104.fake bust 02-401726160104

Closer Look at Too Fake to Leave Along

I got a few comments which show that my readers have learned well about spotting fakes. Someone drew us to the heavy eyelashes, crude & jagged cutting, black lettering and a bit more. All good catches but I want to delve further with you.  First, another look at the whole then we will get to the details.fake-11

I am totally shocked at those horrid thick eyelashes!  Especially the two at the top.  View the fake and a real Edouart that has really been through Hell (went down with the ship) but still exhibits Edouart’s delicate eyelash.










Hands meant so much to Edouart and he cut them well.  Side by side fake vs real.  No contest.

fake-11-handsfake 3-hands

The poor lady above left has one claw and one club.  I can’t even imagine what happened to the above right gent’s hand!


Above is a real Edouart showing the delicate and graceful hands he cut.

I don’t know how to classify this issue but the harpist’s arm rolls over the harp like a snake!!!!  My goodness–Run Girl Run before that snake bites you!  His mouth is already opened!


I have only seen one of Edouart’s harps but compare the fake (below left) to real (below right).

When looking at the quality of cutting, compare the fake below left which shows ladies’ hair and dresses with the real one below right. 


The last point I want to make is the writing.  Some people got the fact that the writing is black whereas Edouart always used iron gall ink which has all turned brown by now. But I hope you will look at the writing itself to compare to Edouart’s real writing so you can see the fakeness.  Beyond the color, look at all of the handwriting and the differences between each entry which we are led to believe is an original grouping in original frame.  First, assume he cut and wrote each of these on the same day.  Find all of the capital letters “A”.  Edouart’s signature sometimes had a capital “A” to begin Augustin and sometimes had a small “a” made larger to show the capitalization.  One thing that never varied is that he used his signed his first name as Aug with a superscript n with two vertical lines below.  Please look at the fake signatures/dates/places directly below and compare them to the real signatures I have included below that.  There are so many discrepancies in the fake that I don’t have the time to discuss them right now.  If someone really wants more discussion about the writing, please let me know by comment and I’ll write more another day.


Fake above

Real signatures above.

This is all I can manage today.  The reason for this post is to make sure you don’t get screwed buying a fake, at least not a bad fake like the one on ebay now.  And educated buyer is a safer buyer.

Too Fake to Leave Alone

Pick out some features that scream fake!

UPDATE: It’s back up for bid on ebay.  Please don’t be fooled.  It is such a horrible fake.  If you want to see it for your self, search ebay for item number 313055466032.

I haven’t posted in way too long.  So much water under the bridge…too much to go into.  But, looks like I might be baaaccckkk!  At least, here is a push start.  I saw this on ebay and just can’t let it go.  If you bid on this I may have to spank your hand and suspend your buying privileges!  This is one of the worst fake Edouart silhouettes that I have ever seen–and believe me, I have seen a lot!  So, I’m going to play teacher and, students, before you read further, tell me what are some elements that tell you this is fake.

I am not sure I can leave this without more comment but I’m going to try to leave it and come back tomorrow….today, give me your thoughts.