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The Magic Lantern
Cut paper and wash
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bequest of Mary Martin, 1938, Accession Number: 38.145.392
One of the most proficient silhouette artists of the nineteenth century, Auguste Edouart discovered his skill at paper cutting only after resigning his post in Napoleon's defeated army and moving to England. He delighted in showing off his abilities by representing a range of ages and social types, as in this complex composition featuring three generations of one family, together with their servants and pet dog. A "Galantee" showman performs a magic lantern show-in which images painted on glass are projected onto a screen through an illuminated lens-while an old man with a wooden leg provides musical accompaniment on a barrel organ. The cut figures are set within an elaborate curtained interior painted in sepia.