French, Mrs. E. J. (ca. 1860)
Nineteenth-century medium of New York who specialized
in psychic painting. The pictures—brightly colored flowers,
birds, or insects—were 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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