Married Children of Joseph Lea and Sarah Robeson Lea with Their Children

Companion to Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2002-6-2

Augustin Amant Constant Fidèle Edouart, French, 1789 - 1861

Geography:
Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America

Date:
1843

Medium:
Cut paper adhered to sheets of beige wove paper, with details drawn in brown ink and brown washes over graphite

Dimensions:
Sheet (sight): 20 x 30 inches (50.8 x 76.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
2002-6-1

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of Mrs. Samuel R. Shipley III in honor of Harvey S. Shipley Miller, 2002

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Additional information:
  • PublicationGifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    After living and working in France, England, and Scotland, Auguste Amant Constant Fidele Edouart, an accomplished silhouettist, came to the United States in 1839, and over the next decade cut silhouettes all over the country. In 1843, while in Philadelphia, he made more than 350 cuttings of individuals and families living in the city, many of whom were prominent members of the Society of Friends. Edouart’s exceptional skill is amply demonstrated in an unusually large pair of silhouettes of the Lea family, one of which is shown here. The Leas posed for the artist at Milverton, their ancestral home outside of Philadelphia on the Wissahickon Creek.

    Edouart’s technique was to take a piece of paper, white on one side and black on the other, fold the black side in, sketch his subject’s profile in pencil on the white side, and then cut it out. He was a master of detail, seen here in his inclusion of toys, dolls, walking sticks, watches, and furniture, as well as his attention to the architectural features of the rooms. The family is engaged in a variety of activities: the ladies knit and converse, the men talk and hold various objects, while children play and babies wait on tasseled pillows.

    Edouart often made duplicates and saved them in albums, allowing him to create future cuttings for customers without having them pose again. When he returned to France in 1849, he lost most of his duplicates, said to have numbered over 50,000, in a shipwreck. The loss so affected him that he never resumed his profession.

    Edouart’s surviving work is significant in that it records the likenesses of many early nineteenth-century individuals whose features would otherwise be lost. It also provides graphic evidence of contemporary taste in fashion and interior decor as well as changing ideas of childhood and family. The Museum is fortunate to have such a fine example of this folk art form so delicately rendered by a prolific silhouette artist. Martha C. Halpern, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary (2002), p. 70.