Silhouettes first appeared in France in the late 1600s at a time of severe economic struggle and are said to be named after Etienne de Silhouette, a French finance minister. As a viable alternative to the popular yet costly oil painting of the period, silhouettes offered the less fortunate the opportunity to leave their legacy in a simple profile cut from paper. Over the years this form of artwork has been referred to as shades, profiles and even shadow pictures. Regardless of the moniker, these portraits are back in creative new ways.
The steady attraction to the simple silhouettes is vast. In fashion, the charming artwork has become the logo for Boy Meets Girl, a successful clothing line developed in Chicago. Several companies offer custom greeting cards featuring the senders profile for that personalized touch. Even some high profile amusement parks offer the black and white artwork of their famous characters for purchase.
Each time this trend rears its two-dimensional head it has been applied to a new creative medium. Recently the design has showed up in every room of the house. Whether it’s in the form of a new plaid pattern or silky curtains, the silhouette is always eye-catching.