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Silhouettes of Elizabeth March and John Janvier

Odessa, Delaware



Attributed to Francis de Haes Janvier (1774-1824)


4 in x 5 7/8 in


Ink and gouache on paper

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Founadtion

Accession Number



“Mrs. Elizabeth Janvier, Novr 23rd 1798. Mr John Janvier, Senr” is written in ink along the bottom.

Condition Notes

The oval silhouette, cut out from a larger piece of paper, has paired holes toward each end where it was once pinned to something else.


Ex coll. Miss Margaret Janvier Hort


Francis, the eldest surviving child of Elizabeth and John Janvier, was likely trained in the cabinetmaking business by his father but eventually pursued his own artistic ambitions.  Three months before completing the double silhouette, he drew and signed a small picture of his father’s homestead (Biggs Museum collection, acc. no. 1992.22).  The handwritten captions below each are remarkably similar and substantiate attribution to Francis.  Francis also made a silhouette of his younger brother George in 1803 and painted a profile of him in 1809 (acc. no. 1981.263).

The artist animated the silhouette with white brush strokes on the black paper, imparting texture and detail.  He also varied the width of the black-ink border, suggesting a sense of shadow and depth.  A delicate eyelash on the man’s face showcases the artist’s attention to detail.  A technical examination using light transmitted through the image from behind showed that Francis had scraped some edges, especially in the woman’s face, to correct or sharpen the line.


(Janvier portrait) Dorman, “Distinctly Delaware,” 37.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 254.