Decorating Your Home With Silhouettes



Once called shades and shadow pictures, a silhouette is a picture of something showing it as a dark shape uniformly filled in with black,especially a black-paper,on a light background. These were usually a miniature cutout of the outlines of a family member or famous person's face.

The name "silhouette" derives from the surname of an eighteenth century miserly finance minister to Louis XV. Etienne de Silhouette's stringent monetary tactics proved overwhelmingly unpopular and as a result things that were considered miserly or simply cheap became labeled as à la Silhouette.

 Silhouette portraits in paper date back to the early 1600s in France when French royalty eiher hired artists to make free-hand cuttings of their profiles, including elaborate hairpieces and clothing or hired them for parties to entertain their guests.
The popularity of silhouettes spread to the rest of Europe in the 1700s These portraits became very popular and In America, silhouettes were highly popular from about 1790 and still remain so today.



Silhouette cutting began as an amusement for European royalty but in the U.S. became a popular way to capture portraits of both privileged and common people.


An example of a hollow cut silhouette. It has been cut from white paper and then placed over black paper.


Another way is more traditional. Cutting the silhouette out of black paper and pasting it on white.


Many silhouettes were simply painted. They're so simple, yet very detailed.

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Silhouettes are beautiful when used as part of a vignette, but again, be sure to incorporate the color black somewhere else in the vignette.

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In colonial times, it was not uncommon to see one or two silhouettes hung in  homes.

Beatrix Potter's home, via pinterest

If you have more than one silhouette, always group them together for greater impact.


Silhouettes ended up pinned into scrapbooks. Because of their inexpensive nature, relative ease of acquisition, and because a sitter often acquired more than one portrait at a time, silhouettes could be given to someone as a memento. For this purpose, silhouettes were kept loose and later housed by the recipient in some fashion. Often these loose silhouettes were slipped into the family Bible or a favorite book.


Auguste Amant Constant Fidèle Edouart popularized the name "silhouette" when he came to England in 1829 from France. He was best known for creating full-length likenesses. As Edouart advised, many silhouettes were framed and hung on the wall.


Hanging them on ribbons is just another way to display a silhouette collection.

Mario Buatta

Antique silhouettes hang in the stair hall, which is furnished with a borne settee and a 19th-century Gothic Revival lantern. It is important that the other pictures in your display also incorporate black as part of their coloring so that the silhouettes blend well with them.


So for a small cost in money and time (adept profilists could scissor a likeness in minutes), the sitter could immortalize his or her self for posterity. Or at least for the friend, sweetheart, or relative to whom silhouettes were often given as mementos.


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If you are looking for something to collect, silhouettes might be the thing for you. They can still be found and sometimes at reasonable prices if you are willing to take your time. If you don't want to wait on the antique ones, create some yourself and yours will be found in an antique shop someday.


This is a picture of a mantle in one of my bedrooms at Christmas featuring a pair of antique silhouettes that I bought at a shop 30 years ago. I have used them so many ways over the years.

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I think they are especially pretty mixed into Christmas decor.


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It seems as though in bad economic times people tend to desire the look of a simpler time. Silhouettes are perfect for the return to classic clean designs. 


Red is a great color to use with the black and white silhouette.


With the wide variety of stencils today you can add style and distinction to an upholstered chair with a pretty silhouette.


The simplicity of silhouettes makes for compatibility and versatility in displays.


Again here you can see how well the silhouettes work with the classic design of this bed and the great modern lamp.

Of course the silhouette is right at home with country style decor.

Create your own silhouette pillows. These can be used several ways in locations throughout your home.


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I love the large solitary silhouette and the way it is hung over the books in this library. I have never seen one this big before.


They remind me of times of old when ladies wore cameos and beautiful tailor made gowns. 


Striped wallpaper with a cluster of portraits and silhouettes.

osborneandlittle.com

Silhouettes are often thought of as very Victorian or vintage, but I’m here to show you how they can work with any design style.


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Silhouettes need not always be serious. This is a craft to have some fun with on occasion.


Be part of a trend to revive a classic art. Full size silhouettes are popular today.


Susie Cushner

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 We see them fading in and out over time but right now silhouettes are riding the wave of popularity again. 


Today the silhouette is not always about the human form. You see them popping up everywhere and featuring anything from animals to chandeliers to famous buildings like the Eiffel Tower.


Silhouettes continue to remain popular today. A search on the internet shows countless silhouette artists offering their skills for a fee. These artists can be found at craft fairs all over the country. Of course many antiques shops and auction houses carry old silhouettes, prices ranging from $200 to as high as $15,000.






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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer



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