We have found a number of early 19th century silhouettists’ advertisements that used the term “silhouette” to distinguish their art form as elegant.  However, “shade” or “profile” remained the primary term to describe this art form until the great master-cutter Augustin Edouart began using the term "silhouettist" to describe himself.  The term became popular and carried forward to today.

In the 1830s silhouettists traveled circuits and cut hundreds or thousands of silhouettes of everyone from slaves to royalty.  However, the popularity of photography in the 1840s  caused the art form of silhouette to waned.  Today only a handful of artists still practice the art of silhouette.    The lost art of hand-cutting silhouettes from sight is becoming obscure, with only a few collectable silhouettests in the world.  Currently, the Photoshop,  and craft

tracings from walls or the Silhouette machine sold at volume stores such as Michaels , have mislead the public into thinking that this is an authentic Edouart style silhouette.  In 1825, Augustin Edourt was at a friend’s home for dinner, and they showed him wall traced silhouettes. Edouart was shocked by the incompetence and “condemned them as being unlike.” With his innate talent, in a moment, he produced a hand-cut silhouette from sight.

  Investment silhouettes today are done from skilled artists who can draw portraits, usually have fine art degrees, and can see shadow and form, without trickery of a light, camera, computer, or projector.  Like Edouart, the talent that authentic silhouette artists have is “innate or G-d given”, it can’t be taught, it is passed down from generations.  The original thin black French silhouette paper was discontinued in 1989.  Cindi Harwood Rose is the only living silhouette artist that still has that paper left.  Other talented silhouette artists use a newer thick and rough silhouette paper, lending to a less expensive hand-cut silhouette, without the same historical value.



The History of the Silhouette

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