History of Silhouettes
Definition - A Silhouette is a portrait or scene depicted in an outline that has been filled in solid.
Types of Silhouette - In its strictest sense, a silhouette is cut, either freehand, using the eye alone as a guide or by following lines that have been either traced by the artist or drawn mechanically. Various means were developed to aid the artist in getting an accurate likeness cast on paper: the camera obscura, chairs with clamps to hold an object steady, devices to prevent candles from wavering, machines that cut automatically as a tracer was passed over the subject's profile. One device, the Prosopographus, used an automation to trace the profile. Some silhouettes were cut in reverse i.e. White paper had a profile cut from it, the inner portion of which was discarded, and the outer, negative, portion of which was mounted on black paper (these are known are hollow-cuts).
Silhouettes were also painted, on card or paper, again either in freehand or using some mechanical aids. More frequently they were done on plaster, glass or ivory. When executed on glass, the work was often backed by a medium such as wax or plaster/composition.
c. 600 - The Chinese were executing cut-paper designs that are close in feeling to Silhouettes
c. 800 - India developed a shadow theatre that later spread to the Middle East and Europe
c. 1000 - Egyptians known to have being making Shadow Puppets
1631 - Pantograph developed which enabled accurate reductions that could be used in jewellery
c.1800 - Le Chat Noir, a Parisian Cafe, featured elaborate shadow plays
1709 - Etienne de Silhouette (1709-67), Controller-General in France, known for his tight financial policies amused himself by cutting portraits from paper.
c.1750-c.1850 - In the West the Silhouette enjoyed its greatest popularity
1756 - 1821 - John Miers portraits on plaster have an uncommon delicacy
1769 - 1861 - August Edouart dazzles us with his technical virtuosity
1867-1939 - Arthur Rackham, the English illustrator, executed 2 books in crisp, witty, silhouettes
Jan 1967 - Jan 1970 - The Silhouette Collectors Club was started probably by Sue McKecknie between these dates