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Guide to the Emily Jackson Photograph Collection of Edouart's American Silhouette Portraits
[1911-1926]
 PR 101 PR 101

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Emily Wolff and Sandra Markham

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 23, 2018
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Jackson, Emily, 1861-, collector.
Title: Emily Jackson Photograph Collection of édouart's American Silhouette Portraits
Dates: [1911-1926]
Abstract: Collection of gelatin silver prints, glass plate negatives, and ephemera related to the documentation of a set of albums compiled by the French artist Augustin édouart and briefly owned by Emily Jackson. édouart affixed his reference set of silhouette portraits to album pages, which he then labeled with each sitter's name, hometown, and the place and date of the cutting. Taken together, the pages provide unique visual documentation of Americans of the 1840s, a profile in profile revealing their appearances on several levels at once: physical countenances, occupations, clothing styles, and favored pets and furniture.
Quantity: 8.97 Linear feet (22 boxes)
Location note: Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 101

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Biographical Note

Augustin Amant Constance Fidèle édouart (1788-1861) was an itinerant French artist who worked in England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1825 until 1839 making thousands of silhouette portraits of local citizens. édouart came across to New York in 1839 and spent the next decade cutting similar "shades" (as they were known in England) of significant American political figures, civic leaders, prominent citizens, and their families during his travels between Boston and New Orleans. He made fine likenesses of residents in the major coastal cities including Philadelphia, Washington, and Baltimore, but also spent time in popular seasonal resorts such as Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, a place that he returned to over five different years to cut hundreds of shadow portraits of visitors to that spa. édouart's American subjects include seven Presidents in addition to a variety of statesmen, businessmen, musicians, actors, artists, doctors, lawyers, and educators; in general, they are some of the most notable personalities of the 1840s.

édouart's technique was to cut full-length profile portraits in duplicate, with one image presented to the sitter and the second pasted in his own carefully labeled and indexed set of albums. édouart's albums served a dual purpose: as his professional archive and client record, and as a sales tool to attract new patrons as he moved from city to town cutting portraits. One of the finest nineteenth century silhouette artists, édouart was known for capturing excellent and accurate likenesses of his subjects, and for his remarkable agility in cutting fine details such as eyeglasses, shirt collars, flowers, toys, family pets, and a variety of other delicate props held by his patrons.

In 1849 édouart sailed for England aboard the cargo ship Oneida. A storm wrecked the ship in Vazon Bay off the coast of Guernsey, but the artist was saved along with one trunk holding six of his American silhouette albums and ten albums of his British work. He was taken into the home of the Lukis family on Guernsey with whom he stayed until his health recovered. In return for the family's kindness, he presented them his collection of silhouette albums before returning to his native France, where he spent his remaining years near Calais.

British historian and author Emily Gatliff Jackson (Mrs. Frederick Nevill Jackson, 1861-1947) acquired the édouart silhouette albums while researching her book The History of Silhouettes (London: 1911). She had placed an advertisement in a British journal,  The Connoisseur Magazine, seeking information on any known silhouettists or silhouette collections; among the respondents was the son of Frederica Lukis, who sold Jackson the édouart albums in his possession.

In the summer of 1911, with her book completed and in press, Emily Jackson contacted the New-York Historical Society with an offer to sell the entire set of édouart's American albums for the price of ten pounds per figure (or a total of 36,000 pounds for all). Writing from her home in Sidcup, Kent, to Society president Samuel V. Hoffman, she acknowledged that she could sell the portraits individually for a higher profit, but felt strongly that the collection should "be worthily placed amongst the archives of the nation to whom the Sitters of the pictures belonged, that it should be preserved intact for the Americans of the future." For reasons unrecorded, the Society declined her offer.

Two years later the British antique dealer Arthur S. Vernay (1877-1960) presented Emily Jackson's collection of 3,721 of édouart's American silhouettes for sale in his New York gallery. Vernay's exhibition catalogue text stated a different sympathy from that of the silhouettes' former keeper: ". . . the present owner at first thought of offering them en bloc to one of the national museums, but on maturer consideration decided that it would interest the greater number if he were to offer them separately so that those who have portraits of their ancestors among the collection might have an opportunity of securing them for preservation in the family archives. Consequently, all the Silhouettes in this catalogue will be disposed of individually." Most of the portraits were thus dispersed, although the 861 silhouettes remaining unsold at the end of Vernay's exhibition were purchased by the Reverend Glenn Tilley Morse (1870-1950) of Newburyport, himself a silhouettist, who bequeathed them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sometime after Emily Jackson acquired the édouart albums, she had the pages of the American volumes carefully photographed on 5 by 7 inch glass plate negatives. Her purpose was at first for her own use in publications, but after completing her book Ancestors in Silhouette Cut by August édouart (London and New York: John Lane, 1921), Jackson began to offer for sale "photo facsimiles" of the portraits through her self-published  Catalogue of 3,800 Named and Dated American Silhouette Portraits of August édouart. Her intended audiences included institutions and libraries (she offered a full set of the photographs bound in albums for 800 pounds), as well as historians, genealogists, and the descendants of édouart's sitters (for one pound ten shillings per figure), as she realized that her photographs might then hold the only available copies of the thousands of Americans portraits once in her possession. In her catalogue text Jackson asked, "Are your Grandparents amongst them? Send full names, according to list, of each member of family required."

The lists provided by the Jackson and Vernay catalogues create a unique census of some of the most prominent Americans of the 1840s, complete with their hometowns and, in some cases, their ages and occupations. In addition they provide the most complete record of édouart's output and travels during his time in the United States. In concert with those publications, Emily Jackson's set of photographs make available the only comprehensive visual record both of those citizens and of édouart's American work, a graphic record of thousands of characters captured in the era just before paper-based photography made portrait images accessible to the masses.

Frederick Nevill Jackson, a banking executive, died in London in 1934. When World War II began, Emily Jackson came to the United States to live with her son Bernard. She returned to her home in London at the war's end, leaving her silhouette and photograph collections, which she brought over with her for safekeeping, in America with her son. The New-York Historical Society purchased the surviving glass plate negatives and photographs of édouart's American albums from Bernard Nevill Jackson (1900-1982) in January 1953.

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Scope and Content Note

The Emily Jackson Photograph Collection of édouart's American Silhouette Portraits contains gelatin silver prints, glass plate negatives, and ephemera related to the documentation of a set of albums compiled by French artist August édouart and briefly owned by Jackson. The collection is divided into three series: Series I. Photographs; Series II. Documentary Material; and Series III. Glass Plate Negatives.

édouart affixed his reference set of portraits to album pages, which he then labeled with each sitter's name, hometown, and the place and date of the cutting. Taken together, the pages provide unique visual documentation of Americans of the 1840s, a profile in profile revealing their appearances on several levels at once: physical countenances, occupations, clothing styles, favored pets and furniture, and chosen watering holes. In addition to Americans, there are a few portraits of exotic foreigners, such as the turbaned and robed Mar Yohannan, Bishop of Ooroomiah, Persia, taken at Saratoga Springs in 1842 (sheet 405), and Chin Sung, who was cut in Washington, D.C., and whose finely described braid extends nearly the full length of his body (sheet 878). There is a wide range of furniture pieces and decorative arts elements incorporated throughout the portraits: chairs, desks, tables, lit candlesticks, pulpits, etc. Family pets present include dogs (on sheets 300, 503, 518, 563, and 1009) and a large, highly plumed bird (sheet 576).

The juxtaposition of several figures on each page lend the sheets themselves, in a certain sense, an abstract folk art feel. A finished portrait that the sitter received would have his or her image set down on a sheet of paper within a lithographed domestic or outdoor background, where the props and posture would have a visual context. In contrast, édouart's own reference albums had between one and six portraits pasted on each blank page, the often unrelated figures forming a human chain without so much as a thread to connect them with a neighbor, place, or circumstance.

The Society's accession records described only "1,052 negatives and positives of 3,800 silhouettes by édouart" without a further breakdown of quantity. An inventory of the collection made in February 1953, after it had arrived at the Society, describes 251 negatives and thirty-nine prints "missing" including twenty sheets for which there were no images, in either negative or positive. When the collection was processed in 2003, there were twenty-four sheets for which there are no images in negative or positive. They are sheet numbers 14, 86, 151-152, 204, 725-742, and 745.

Arrangement

Photographs have been arranged into three series based on format:

  1. Series I: Photographs
  2. Series II: Documentary Material
  3. Series III: Glass Plate Negatives

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848.
  • Belmont, August, 1813-1890.
  • Cushman, R.W. (Robert Woodward), 1800-1868.
  • Foot, Samuel Augustus, 1780-1846.
  • Ingersoll, Charles Jared, 1782-1862.
  • Inman, Henry, 1801-1846.
  • Jumel, Eliza Bowen, 1775?-1865.
  • Kearny, Philip, 1815-1862.
  • Macomb, Alexander, 1782-1841.
  • Marcy, William L. (William Learned), 1786-1857.
  • Reed, John, 1781-1860.
  • Van Buren, Martin, 1782-1862.
  • édouart, Augustin Amant Constance Fidèle, 1789-1861.

Document Type

  • Gelatin silver prints.
  • Glass negatives.
  • Negatives.
  • Photographic prints.
  • Silhouettes.

Subject Topics

  • Portraitists.
  • Portraits, American.
  • Silhouettes -- United States.

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Administrative Information

Provenance

Purchased on the Abbott Fund from Bernard Nevill Jackson, January 1953.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to thirty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. See guidelines in Print Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from:
Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
Two West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282
Fax: (212) 579-8794

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Emily Jackson Photograph Collection of édouart's American Silhouette Portraits, PR 101, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections.

Related Material at the New-York Historical Society

The New-York Historical Society's museum holds original individual silhouettes by August édouart. Letters from Emily Jackson describing her collection can be found in the Society's archives. Copies of Jackson's and Vernay's sales catalogues, as well as Jackson's books on silhouettes, are available in the Society's Print Room and Library collections.

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Container List

Series I: Photographs

Scope and Contents note

Series I holds 1,021 5 x 7 inch gelatin silver prints made from the glass plate negatives in Series III. The prints are undated, but were probably made between 1911, when Emily Jackson had already acquired édouart's silhouette albums, and the mid-1920s when she was selling photographs to the public through her catalogue. The photographs came to the society in her old glass plate negative boxes, each of which had a paper label inscribed with the box's contents (the sheet/photograph numbers) and the note "Prints 1st set," which would indicate that they may be closer in date to 1911.

Each sheet of silhouettes was numbered consecutively from 1 to 1052, with the addition of an occasional "a" and "b" sheet, and had that figure inscribed (presumably by Jackson) in the upper center of the sheet. These numbers do not coordinate with édouart's original album or album page numbers; the latter can be seen in the upper right corner of some of the sheets. Each photograph is inscribed its verso in ink with the information that édouart wrote under each figure, which is sometimes legible in the picture itself but far easier to read on the verso. There is not a photograph for every one of the numbered sheets and there are negatives for which there are not original photographs; the box and folder list following this records the number of each sheet for which there was an original photograph or negative present when the collection was processed in 2003.

New-York Historical Society staff members have annotated copies of the Jackson and Vernay sales catalogues with Jackson's inventory (édouart sheet) number; these publications provide name and hometown access to the figures in the photographs. They can be consulted in the Society's Print Room.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 édouart sheets numbered 1-13, 15-39, 39a-b, 40-43, 43a, 44-50, 50a
[1911-1926]
Box: 1 Folder : 2 édouart sheets numbered 51-85, 87-100
[1911-1926]
Box: 1 Folder : 3 édouart sheets numbered 101-123, 123a, 124-150
[1911-1926]
Box: 1 Folder : 4 édouart sheets numbered 153-165, 167-197, 197a, 198-200
[1911-1926]
Box: 1 Folder : 5 édouart sheets numbered 201-203, 205-229, 229a, 230-250
[1911-1926]
Box: 1 Folder : 6 édouart sheets numbered 251-282, 284-300
[1911-1926]
Box: 1 Folder : 7 édouart sheets numbered 301-350
[1911-1926]
Box: 1 Folder : 8 édouart sheets numbered 351-400
[1911-1926]
Box: 1 Folder : 9 édouart sheets numbered 401-414, 416-450
[1911-1926]
Box: 1 Folder : 10 édouart sheets numbered 451-500
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 11 édouart sheets numbered 501-550
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 12 édouart sheets numbered 551-594, 594a, 595-600
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 13 édouart sheets numbered 601-606, 606a, 607-650
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 14 édouart sheets numbered 651-700
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 15 édouart sheets numbered 701-704, 704a, 705-724
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 16 édouart sheets numbered 761-788, 788a, 789-794, 794a, 795-800
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 17 édouart sheets numbered 801-850
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 18 édouart sheets numbered 851-873, 873a, 874-900
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 19 édouart sheets numbered 901-950
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 20 édouart sheets numbered 951-1000
[1911-1926]
Box: 2 Folder : 21 édouart sheets numbered 1001-1052
[1911-1926]

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Series II: Documentary Material

Scope and Contents note

Series II contains evidence of Jackson's marketing of édouart images. There is one copy of her sales catalogue for photo facsimiles of the American silhouettes; four cardboard boxes which originally held glass plate negatives and later held her photograph inventory; and a set of small card tickets, found in the boxes with the photographs, which are inscribed in ink with the box contents and give mail order information including Jackson's mailing address.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 22 Catalogue of 3,800 Named and Dated American Silhouette Portraits by August édouart, by Emily Jackson (London: ca. 1926)
[1926]
Box: 3 Folder : 23 Descriptive tickets (21) and slips of paper from boxes holding Emily Jackson's collection of édouart album page photographs
[1926]
Box: 2 Glass plate negative boxes (4) used to hold Emily Jackson's "1st set" of édouart album page photographs
[1926]

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Series III: Glass Plate Negatives

Scope and Contents note

Series III contains 770 glass plate negatives made sometime after 1911 and before 1913, by which time Jackson had already sold the édouart silhouettes to Arthur Vernay. The negatives are numbered and arranged in the inventory sequence described in Series I above. There are several random negatives absent from the collection, as well as many groups: numbers 1 through 41, 330 through 382, 725 through 745, 821 through 892, 972 through 990, and 1020 through 1052 are missing. These blocks of numbers may indicate that full boxes of negatives had been broken or lost during Jackson's lifetime, or possibly when the collection made its transfer from England to America.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 4 Plates/édouart sheets numbered 40-42, 44-50, 50a, 51-52, 54-58, 60-76, 78-79, 82
[1911]
Box: 5 Plates numbered 83-85, 90-98, 100-119, 121-123, 123a, 124-125
[1911]
Box: 6 Plates numbered 126-127, 135-140, 142-143, 145, 149, 153-155, 158-179, 182-185
[1911]
Box: 7 Plates numbered 186-197, 197a, 198, 200-202, 206, 208, 210-211, 215-216,221-225, 227-229, 229a, 230-235
[1911]
Box: 8 Plates numbered 236-271, 273-275
[1911]
Box: 9 Plates numbered 276-315
[1911]
Box: 10 Plates numbered 316-321, 324-326, 328, 383-392, 394-395, 397-414
[1911]
Box: 11 Plates numbered 415-435, 437-458
[1911]
Box: 12 Plates numbered 459-499
[1911]
Box: 13 Plates numbered 500-505, 507-513, 515-517, 520, 523-544
[1911]
Box: 14 Plates numbered 545-569, 571-585
[1911]
Box: 15 Plates numbered 586-594, 594a, 595-606, 606a, 607-625
[1911]
Box: 16 Plates numbered 626-669
[1911]
Box: 17 Plates numbered 670-699, 701-710
[1911]
Box: 18 Plates numbered 711-719, 721-724, 743, 746-771
[1911]
Box: 19 Plates numbered 772-788, 788a, 789-794, 794a, 795-808, 810
[1911]
Box: 20 Plates numbered 812-820, 893-926
[1911]
Box: 21 Plates numbered 927-928, 930-953, 955-968
[1911]
Box: 22 Plates numbered 969-971, 980, 991-1014, 1016-1019
[1911]

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