(redirected from silhouettes)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Wikipedia.


(sĭl'o͞oĕt`), outline image, especially a profile drawing solidly filled in or a cutout pasted against a lighter background. It was named for Étienne de Silhouette (1709–67), who was the finance minister to Louis XV; it is said that he was so noted for his stinginess that cheap articles, including portraits, were designated à la Silhouette. Drawings in silhouette became very popular in Europe during the last decades of the 18th cent. and replaced miniature paintings at French and German courts. In England and America profile portraitists proliferated in the 19th cent. and numerous magazine and book illustrators, e.g., Arthur Rackham, employed silhouettes, or, as they were called in England, shades. Their popularity was fostered by the interest in Lavater's science of physiognomy and by the strong interest in classical art, especially in Greek black-figure vase painting. Silhouette drawings decreased in popularity after the invention of the daguerreotype.


See A. V. Carrick, A History of American Silhouettes (1968); N. Laliberté and A. Mogelon, Silhouettes, Shadows and Cutouts (1968); S. McKechnie, British Silhouette Artists and Their Work: 1760–1860 (1978).



(from the French controller general of finances E. de Silhouette [1709–67], of whom a caricature was drawn in the form of a shadowy profile), in the broad sense, the characteristic outline of an object in either nature or art, similar to the object’s shadow. In the narrow sense, the silhouette is a technique in graphic art by which a flat monochrome representation of figures and objects is produced. Drawn with india ink or white pigment or cut out of paper and pasted onto a background, a silhouette forms a continuous bounded contour, that is, a dark or light area, on a contrasting background.

The art of silhouette has been known since ancient times in China (where it has long preserved its traditions), Japan, and other Asian countries. It has been popular in Europe since the 18th century. Profile portraits, domestic scenes, illustrations, and still lifes were the favorite genres, as seen in the silhouettes by P. O. Runge, A. von Menzel, and P. Konewka in Germany and by F. P. Tolstoi, E. M. Bem, and G. I. Narbut in Russia. In more recent times, the method has been employed by E. S. Kru-glikova, N. V. Il’in, and other artists.


Kuznetsova, E. Iskusstvo silueta. [Leningrad, 1970.]


an outline drawing filled in with black, often a profile portrait cut out of black paper and mounted on a light ground
References in periodicals archive ?
After discussing silhouettes and looking at some examples, I asked students to think about what came to mind when they heard the music they had painted to earlier.
BEIRUT: Elie Saab's ready-to-wear Fall-Winter 2015-2016 collection, with its structured and commanding silhouettes, looks as if it came straight out of an enchanted forest.
Arguably the one-time king of the decoy world for Canada goose hunters, silhouettes are making a comeback across North America.
She has cut silhouettes at the Wenham Museum, Cushing House in Newburyport, Custom House Maritime Museum, in Newburyport, and the Orchard House in Concord.
Sniper rifle ammunition could be any factory load or handload even with full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets as long as it wasn't armor piercing in deference to Butte Gun Club's expensive metallic silhouettes.
The combination of these two ideas renders the Silhouettes even more troubling, as they acquire a kind of autonomous and strange life: they are simultaneously the embodiments of the volumetric negative space of historical models and of their own intrinsic interior space.
When Jessie J, 24, steps into Freddie Mercury's shoes and performs We Will Rock You with Queen at the London 2012 closing ceremony on August 12 at the Olympic Park, you really will see a little silhouette of a man (yes, I know that's the wrong song.
Mark is the only ever student to be mentored by renowned US silhouette artist Kerry J Cook.
Their silhouettes were custom-made then filmed in an actual studio to create a life-like illusion.
Then we looked at silhouettes made by Auguste Edouart in the 1800s and discussed their function.
San Francisco Bay 1800/San Francisco Bay 2000, 2005, is a large cut-paper silhouette pinned directly to the wall that shows every detail of the bay's complicated shape, including tributaries and creeks, as they existed at the two dates.
The two successful flights are noted with silhouettes of the wedge-shape X-43 separating from its winged Pegasus booster rocket.