What’s wrong with the signature?

fullOkay, here’s another “Edouart” on ebay. Ends today, It looks pretty good until you look at the signature…actually signatures as the piece is signed twice.  So, students, what’s wrong with the signature(s)?

First, why would he sign it twice?  It appears that the man $_57was placed over the first signature so the artist felt the need to sign again.  Edouart was too much of a perfectionist to have done something so unprofessional.

signSecond, it’s not Edouart’s signature.  He signed his name with a superscript “n” at the end of his first name (as in Augn.–sorry but I can’t do superscript in this blog).  He never used a superscript “t”.  His first name was Augustin, not August as the early reference books call him.

I can’t see the color of the ink although it looks pretty dark.  But look at the ink splotch in the word “Fecit”.  Again, very unprofessional supposedly from a man who was the consummate professional.  He also did not use a capital “F” in “fecit” preferring to use a non-capital.

Look again at the partially hidden signature.  It appears to use both a superscript “t” and then a superscript “n” and has partially rubbed out the “t”.  Again, this is not something Edouart would do.

The overall piece looks fairly much like Edouart’s work.  But you have to be an investigator to avoid buying the wrong thing.  You can see the ebay listing at http://www.ebay.com/itm/311369590424?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT.  It’s titled “August Edouart 1841 Silhouette of Man and Woman Signed Great Collectible”, it ends in 10 hours and it currently is at $450 with 12 bids.

Edouart children Phili 4695 05 signature 300pxHere is an example of Edouart’s real signature.


Final note: The “Edouart” with the totally fake signature sold on ebay for $876 with 15 bids by 6 bidders. I can almost assure you that it will end up back on the market to sell again at an even higher price. Please look at things closely before you buy them and learn what to look for in high priced items.
bh writes: Peggy, what about the A? I thought his A’s were always rounded. Also, what about this one? It seems too slanted to the right. https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/42340402_auguste-edouart-frenchnew-orleans-1789-1861
BH, Thanks for your note.  Edouart’s “A” was usually rounded, but it seems that sometimes he did use the capital A.  As for the link you sent, this silhouette is fake and has been offered and passed before.  The first time the auction house offered it, they also had a fake one that was supposedly from Natches, Mississippi and dated the same date as this one, purportedly from New Orleans, Louisiana.  Now, Natches and New Orleans are 170 miles apart.  Making it from one point to the other in 1844 and taking silhouettes in both places on the same day would have been quite a feat–even for someone with Edouart’s skills!

“the original black silhouette” — Really?



fake Brown ebay 150504 01Okay, a silhouette reproduction of a work by William Henry Brown has shown up on email and I’m really not sure whether to give the seller the benefit of the doubt that he/she doesn’t know, or just think “What a scam!”.

The title of the ebay listing is “Antique 1844 Silhouette Of Samuel Lewis Southard, By W. H. Brown, Framed

The description says:

Antique 1844 Silhouette Of Samuel Lewis Southard, By W. H. Brown, Framed / Window measures approximately 10-1/2″H x 6-1/2″W. / Frame measures approximately 15-1/2″H x 11-1/2″W. / Marked on the bottom: /”From Life By W. H. Brown, 1844 / Samuel Lewis Southard”. / This is the original black silhouette with added white details. / The pencil guidelines for the text are still visible. / Piece is framed, matted and protected behind glass. / General wear from use and age. / Paper has some yellowing. / Exact age of print is unknown. / No known provenance.

What does the description mean?  Is it an “Antique 1844 Silhouette … by W.H. Brown” and “the original black silhouette” or is it a print of unknown age because it does say “Exact age of print is unknown”?  For real?  How many of you think this is an original 1844 silhouette by Brown?  Is it an antique from 1844 or does the seller not know the date?  Is it an original or is a print?   Is it a seller who has no business selling things like this because he/she doesn’t know enough or care enough to learn, or is it just a scam?

fake Brown ebay 150504 02Look at the quality and how dark black the black ink is.  It’s definitely not from 1844 and it is definitely not an original done by Brown.


Someone bought this fake Edouart

15-03 fake girl 02Such a shame that someone just bought this fake Edouart from ebay.  These 20th century fakes that are all supposedly American-cut come up all of the time.  As you can see, the ink is black.  This group of fakes all have the names of the sitter inscribed either above, below or on the opposite lower corner from Edouart’s specious signature.  Look at the girl–she doesn’t look like Edouart’s work.  Reader’s please send comments on what characteristics are missing for Edouart’s work, or show that this is definitely not Edouart’s work.  The girl was sold with the pair in one frame, which I give no opinion about.  The seller did not represent the pair as by Edouart.  You can see the listing for about a month at http://www.ebay.com/itm/Two-Silhouettes-from-1840-039-s-One-by-Edouart-One-French-Unsigned-/291362701320?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&nma=true&si=7G3STg7DcxcMfdj0O2rvURLXsBc%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc   The buyer paid $565 for these two silhouettes.15-03 fake girl 03 15-03 fake girl

More Non-Edouarts on ebay

ebay fake Edouart hc 01 I don’t know what these are, but they certainly are not silhouettes by Edouart.  Listed on ebay as “Antique Pair Auguste Edouart Silhouette Rare “Negative” Cut Out Portrait Signed”, these hollow cut silhouettes have an impressed stamp on them which I cannot read.  If it says “Edouart” then the stamp is fake.  It may, however, be someone else’s trade stamp.  Although Edouart did some bust-length silhouettes, he never, never, never did hollow cut silhouettes.  These silhouettes look nothing like Edouart’s silhouettes.  Here is what the listing says: ebay fake Edouart hc 02

This is a Rare Pair of “Negative” Cut Out Silhouette Portraits

by Auguste Edouart

Negative cut out meaning the white paper is what has been cut.

Usually Silhouette Portraits are cut out black paper mounted over white.

This pair is white cut out mounted over black.


Both are signed with a stamp.

Portraits are absolutely authentic, you will not be disappointed.

The woman has some staining, shown below and

definitely not a deal breaker.

This frame may or may not be original.

The portraits have been re-matted and the frame has

had new paper backing put on with a new wire,

the frame itself is constructed with pegs which is

correct for the period.

To me this appears to be a partial frame restoration.

The back portion of the frame that is showing has good oxidation,

therefore I believe the frame is original.

ebay fake Edouart hc 04 ebay fake Edouart hc 03

The pair is ebay # 251726087280 and you can see it at http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Pair-Auguste-Edouart-Silhouette-Rare-Negative-Cut-Out-Portrait-Signed-/251726087280?pt=Folk_Art&hash=item3a9c0b4470.

Here are photos of a couple of Edouart busts (cut & paste like all of his silhouettes) so you can see what they look like.  I’ve had some busts that were hand-signed and some that had trade labels, but I’ve never see an impressed stamp by him.

Edouart Fanny 02c 96 pxEdouart bust man 4182 03c close 96 pxEdouart preacher Boston 02c 96 px

Patricia writes, “Thank you for doing this!!”.

Peggy replies, Thank you for reading!

Another Edouart–You tell me

Cresent City Auctions NO 01 141115

Okay Edouart students!  You tell me what is wrong with this “Edouart” coming up for auction.  I’m anxious to read your thoughts.


Cresent City Auctions NO 02 141115



Liz says: “The clothing and hairstyles don’t look quite right to me for the time period, especially the woman’s figure. The hands are poorly cut. And, the “original gold leaf and gesso frame” would not have been original to a genuine Edouart. I’m sure I’ve missed other red flags, I’m anxious to hear what your observations are!”

From my Facebook page come the following comments:

Sherry says: “crude

Bradley says: “The handwriting is crude, and the figures lack detail.

Kathryn says: “Feet are wrong, shading on the ground is strange and cross hatchy, the manner in which the piece is documented is off (signatures and sitter information in the wrong places and pertinent information left out).
This part is just my opinion:
The piece seems too tight to me, and the most bothersome thing aesthetically to me is the composition itself. The Mother is engaging the children and reading to them…wouldn’t he have made the children facing her and listening to her, instead of facing away, posing strangely, and walking away from their Mother?

These are all very good observations.  You are correct on all counts. The crudeness of the figures is the first thing I noted.  The feet are something that a potential buyer should look at first–for some reason, fakers seem to have a hard time replicating Edouart’s feet or they just aren’t trying that hard.  This silhouette purports to be a commissioned silhouette–that is, one that was paid for and given to the customer as opposed to a duplicate out of his folios. I don’t remember seeing a commissioned piece where Edouart wrote sitter info on the back of the silhouette. And, as a conversation piece, the sitters should be engaged, not all looking in the same direction. Buyers beware of “American-cut Edouarts”.  They command a higher price in America, therefore, we see more fakes.  You should know what you are looking for and at before buying.  Edouart spent little time in the Southern states and a large portion of the “Southern Edouarts” that come on the market are fake. Some of the fakes are quite good and harder to spot–this piece is not so good.  Always study a piece before buying it!


Some attribution are so off-the-wall that you just have to wonder, “Why?”

Unfortunately, yet another listing for another “EX RARE” silhouette on ebay makes claims that are so far-fetched that no one with any understanding of attributions would make or believe them. Here is what the listing says:

Supposed "Jarvis"1820 American Gold Leaf Silhouette EX RARE John Wesley Jarvis

We have an extremely rare and choice silhouette made circa 1820. We believe the artist is John Wesley Jarvis. Let’s get the measurements out of the way: frame 63 x 73mm, inside opening 41 x 51mm, thickness 12mm. This frame is solid brass and not brass over wood.

I always disassemble silhouettes from their frames in order to take better photos and to check their condition. However, I did not put my paws inside this one, as the backing cardboard seems to be original with its peripheral retainer still in place. I believe it has been this way for the last 200 years. And the artwork, itself, is nearly in the condition it was made. I absolutely saw no reason to disassemble it and risk damaging this silhouette.

Jarvis worked in many style and medium. One of them is what many writers call “etching on gold leaf” silhouettes. That is not accurate. Those writers just followed the footsteps of previous writers without doing any research themselves. Soon this “etching on gold leaf” (false information) was etched (no pun intended) in stone. This artwork on glass was produced just like those 19th century silhouette glass mats with gold and black designs. Many call it eglomise; I just call it reverse painted glass, unless real gold foil is used. Our silhouette seems to be yellow in color, but in person it shines a true reflective mirror gold.

Anyways, this is a reverse painted silhouette that was backed with gold leaf. Jarvis sold these for a fin, while he sold the plain reverse painted silhouette for a buck. Do not mistaken this silhouette for those Continental silhouettes of similar artwork. They were made in the late 1700s and look nothing like this American counterpart. Even the mediocre continental works are so much better than the best Jarvis. This silhouette is primitive compared to those of British and Continental works.

I am sure there exist a few Jarvis of this style and medium somewhere, but I have not been able to find a single specimen. People write about it, but where art thou? This work is exceedingly rare and this piece should find a home in a museum or in a very refined private collection.

Okay, let’s look at the “attribution” for this antique silhouette.  First, the seller claims that the artist John Wesley Jarvis made this silhouette which “many writers call ‘etching on gold leaf'”. He says that the claims of “many writers” is “not accurate” and “false information”. Well, in her groundbreaking book Shades of Our Ancestors, Alice Van Leer Carrick said that Jarvis and his partner Joseph Wood “made profiles on gold leaf, shadowed a little by hatching”.  Ms. Carrick’s description comes directly from the written memories of William Dunlap, an artist and art historian who saw the works of Jarvis first-hand and knew him personally. Mr. Dunlap was pretty specific in how Jarvis made his gold leaf silhouettes. Dunlap’s description surely sounds like there was hatching (otherwise known as etching) on the gold leaf. Where is the “shadow[ing] a little by hatching” in this one–whether on the gold leaf or on the black paint? If there isn’t any, why is this seller so sure that his silhouette is by Jarvis and that Jarvis didn’t create his silhouettes using the technique recorded by an artist who knew him and saw his work? Surely Wm. Dunlap knew and understood the techniques Jarvis was using.

Although most antique gold leaf silhouettes on glass are Continental, the seller claims that the Continental ones “were made in the late 1700s and look nothing like this American counterpart.” Well, for years I have owned a German gold leaf silhouette that was made in the 1830s and is framed in the same stamped brass frame as this EX RARE silhouette and is just as “primitive” as the seller’s silhouette.

Lastly, the seller admits that he has never seen a single specimen of Jarvis’ gold leaf silhouettes. So, where is the attribution coming from? Obviously, it is coming completely from his imagination. The seller claims that the many writers who followed Ms. Carrick (quoting Jarvis’ friend and colleague, William Dunlap) did no research themselves….so, where is the seller’s research? Attributions and these kinds of conclusions must be backed by tangible evidence.

My personal opinion is that a seller who proclaims to know it all is more dangerous than the average generalist antique dealer who admits to not knowing everything.  At least the more humble dealer alerts you that you need to look elsewhere for an answer or attribution.  This dealer can make the average buyer feel false comfort in buying from him.

ellen writes, “I really love your blog. I want to get notifications when you have new entries. I am in love with the Susannah Paine picture! Thanks for all the great and engaging information!”

Thank you ellen!  There should be a button to the right side of the blog page that says “Follow Blog via Email”.  Press that and you should be set.  I appreciate your comment and interest!

A Nice Cautionary ebay Listing

I just ran across this ebay listing, and I have to say that I like the way the seller gives details about condition issues and makes an attribution.  The seller not only gives the reasons for the attribution, but cautions potential buyers that he/she is not an expert in this field.  The most correct listing would have said that in the seller’s opinion, the piece is by Sarah Goodridge instead of calling it an attribution.  An attribution should only be made by an expert in the field.  Still, it is one of the most honest, cautionary listings I’ve ever seen on ebay.  I applaud the seller!  This is how the listing reads:

“This is a nice example of American portrait miniature painting, measuring 3 7/8” x 2 7/8” or 9.8 x 7.3 cm. The portrait itself was well done, featuring fine workmanship and well executed form. The rest, unfortunately, is a lesson in how not to treat a miniature. Someone removed the original backing, obliterating any chance of a signature. Then someone glued it down to a card, badly, and exposed it to sun light. It needs a loving home!

That said, a friend of mine says he is always amused by my attributions, so I will now try to amuse you too. If you look at Sarah Goodridge’s portrait of Daniel Webster at MHS, you will see that this miniature has the same positioning on the field, the same general position, etc. Of course the background is different. Now if you look at the portrait of Edward Blake Parkman at the MMA you will see the same background, shadowing, and even brush strokes. The coloring that has not been bleached out by the sun looks the same to me. Even the size is the same. Unfortunately the skin coloring is lost to compare, and what is going on with the tie is beyond me. I am reasonably certain that nothing can be done to restore this miniature. So while I am convinced it is a Sarah Goodridge, I am starting it at a very cheap price. I will also remind those who don’t know me, that while I have collected miniatures for 40 years, I am an absolute amateur, my field is silver.”

The bolding is emphasis added by me.  If you want to look at the listing, it can currently be found at http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-American-Portrait-Miniature-of-Gentleman-c-1825-by-Sarah-Goodridge-/121106317471?pt=Art_Paintings&hash=item1c327fc09f#ht_1511wt_1145.  Bravo seller labarbe for a well-written listing.  That said, I don’t know this seller and this posting is not intended as an endorsement of this particular item or of this seller.