Two hundred years ago, long before the camera was invented, someone wishing
to have an inexpensive portrait created of their loved ones would have visited a
silhouette artist. Within minutes and using only a pair of scissors and a
skillful eye, he would have produced a wonderful little image with a remarkable
resemblance to his subject.
The name Silhouette traces back to the mid-18th century French finance
minister, Etienne de Silhouette. Because his name was synonymous with
doing things cheaply and because he was fond of making these images himself,
this artform was named after him.
In America, Silhouettes were highly popular from about 1790 to 1840. The
invention of the camera signaled the end of the Silhouette as a widespread form
of portraiture. However, their popularity is being reborn in a new
generation of people who appreciate the Silhouette as a nostalgic and unique way
of capturing a loved one's image.
They will always make charming keepsakes that will be treasured for