They originated in Europe in the early part of the 18th century and became a “must-have” of the French royal class. Cutting people’s profiles from black paper became very popular and reached its peak in the 1800s.
The name “silhouette” is attributed to the Finance Minister of France, Etienne de Silhouette, who in the 1760s crippled the population with his merciless tax policies.
My graphite pencil drawings often contain silhouettes and I also employ them from time to time in my coloured pencil art. They are flat and devoid of any hint of their three-dimensional qualities, except for their edges. A clever silhouette will give the feeling of 3D. We have to imagine the rest!
Today’s images are (Top) a scene from Boat Harbour, Coles Bay and Lake King William, all being from Tasmania.
Silhouettes used in landscapes place a “fence” or a barrier between us, and the subject. We are forced to look beyond and into the distance, thus making the silhouette appear to be 3D when it’s no more than a collection of dark, flat shapes. Although devoid of information they make us think about what they really look like.
Does your art ever feature silhouettes?
Wednesday: Are you a con artist?