The Toy Cart

Augustin Edouart Cutting


Augustin Edouart always cut his silhouette portraits in duplicate: one cutting was for his client, the other was for his personal archive. The latter copy would typically be annotated on the reverse with the sitter’s name, the place and the date. In addition to these archive albums, Edouart also kept scrapbooks in which he pasted practice and experimental cuttings. Unfortunately nearly all the artist’s albums perished when Edouart was shipwrecked en route home from the USA to France in 1849. The few albums that were salvaged from the sea were gifted to the family in Guernsey that offered him shelter following his rescue.

It’s now known that Edouart did retain a small part of his record including a Scrapbook of cuttings which emerged a few years ago in a Paris bookstore. Filled mostly with cuttings of dogs, this scrapbook also contained some figure cuttings and miscellaneous props that Edouart would have typically included in his large conversation pieces. That scrapbook has been the source of this unique cutting.

The silhouette shows a small curly-haired child holding a stick and wearing a dress tied at the back with a ribbon bow, and frilly pantaloons. Alongside is a toy cart with spoked wheels loaded with sacks and pulled by two horses on wooden wheels.

The wheel spokes have a couple of breaks as does the stretcher between the horses but, apart from that, the silhouette is in excellent condition. It is presented in a period bird’s eye maple veneer frame and has a stamp of authenticity both within and on the backing board.

Finding himself exiled in England with a wife and young family to support, Augustin Edouart opened a shop in Cheltenham selling French curios and artificial flowers but the venture was short-lived and a bankruptcy notice was published in May 1826. He had also tried his hand at creating pictures of animals and landscapes out of hair. These found favour with HRH Duchess of York who commissioned portraits of her beloved dogs. The work was, however, time-consuming and so not cost-effective. But all was not lost, as Edouart discovered he had an aptitude for cutting silhouettes and, third time lucky, this venture proved hugely successful. He spent the next fifteen years travelling around the British Isles cutting thousands of profiles including many authors, musicians, politicians and royalty before setting sail to the United States where again he found favour and success.

Item Ref. 4996

Size: framed, 210 x 265mm (8¼ x 10½")

Provenance: Augustin Edouart's personal scrapbook