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French, Mrs. E. J. (ca. 1860)

French, Mrs. E. J. (ca. 1860)

Nineteenth-century medium of New York who specialized in psychic painting. The picturesbrightly colored flowers, birds, or insectswere produced in a curtained-off dark cabinet under a small table with prepared pencils, brushes, and paints. The speed of execution was remarkable, pictures of considerable artistic merit being produced within 8 to 15 seconds. Scraping and rubbing sounds, suggesting extremely rapid movement, were distinctly heard by the sitters. It was discovered, however, that many of the pictures produced in this way were copies of existing pictures and suspicions of fraud were entertained by some sitters. In light of other exposures of similar phenomena, such as those produced by David Duguid, it seems likely that French operated fraudulently.

Benjamin Coleman describes his experiences with French in his book Spiritualism in America (1861).

(See also direct drawing and painting )

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