The History of Silhouette Art and Silhouette Artists
A silhouette is everything and nothing. It is the positive and the negative. When done correctly, it is "a monument to a moment", when done poorly, it disappears into the background, and is a minimal of all that could be.
The history of silhouettes show how the art of the image in simple black form or white form on black, is addictive to the artist who created it. History was made when American silhouette artist Cindi Harwood did 144 silhouettes in one hour for a world record.
The silhouette is not the shadow, our shadow is a distortion of blocked light. A good silhouette (once called a shade) is your positive light and personality, interpreted by a skillful artist.
There are many ways that this has been done in time. Most feel that with the invention of paper in China, in the twelth century.. Others claim that the roots of the silhouette is traced to the black profiles on ancient Greek and Etuscan pottery. The Greek term was shiagraphia which means shadow painting. People are amazed by a shadow, which appears to change as you move, often having a life of its own. The first artist thought to have done a tracing of a shadow was Dibutade (some say debutante is derived from her name), the daugher of a potter in fl. 600 BC. She traced her lover's shadow to remember him while he was on a journey.
As a silhouette artist, Cindi Harwood Rose, has many people tell her that her works which are hand-cut and not traced, remind them more of their loved ones than a photo does. As they are displayed in a home, or in a movie, they serve as a reminder of a loved one, and a precious moment.
Silhouettes also remind people of shadow puppets which were popular in Turkey and the Middle East from the eleventh to the thirteenth century. Some of these religious and spiritual puppet shows have leather pieces imported from India, and often termed Wayang, which also sounds like the word Bayang, the Japanese word for shadow or imagination. This puppetry also became popular in France in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and was called Les ombres noires.
The first silhouette known to be hand-cut in a portrait form is by a Mrs. Pyburg in the late seventh century, in England. She did King William and Queen Mary. Some say it was around 1670. The silhouettes were called profile miniatures or shades. They are never to be life-sized as the wall tracings are that school teachers and crafts people do. The little silhouette which is around 2 to 3 inches high, is the most desired size.
The term silhouette is derived from a French minister of finance called Etienne de Slhouette, 1709-1767. He was a very strict in finance and cut expenses. The name silhouette was applied to him by Augustine Edourt, a French prolific silhouette artist. Edourt's silhouettes are often copied and were used to tell history by the many elaborate settings, and of the subjects he did full figure silhouettes of.
More of the history will be continued later or you can check it out in full detail on SilhouettesbyCindi.com and Peggy McClard Antiques.