Silhouette

DEFINITION

A term for any portrait, design or image in single line profile, it was historically an art form taken from a shadow cast by a candle on a sheet of paper. The name came from Eteinne De Silhouette, a mid 18th-century French Minister of Finance, who was derided for shallow, empty headed unfair taxation. At the time, French people, on the eve of the French Revolution, frequently dressed in black to symbolize their dark fate and described themselves as "a la Silhouette, just shadows." Silhouette portraiture became very popular during the 18th and 19th centuries and was most often freehand cutouts of black paper pasted onto white cardboard. Carew Rice, a 20th century artist, became very popular in the American South for silhouettes of children and landscape scenes. Sources: Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques; Jack Morris, Morris & Whiteside Galleries, Hilton Head, SC

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