Monday, 13 August 2018

Also, you don't have to do ears.

Here's something I didn't know: silhouettes were, as you might not be surprised to learn, named after a Monsieur Silhouette. But, as you might be surprised to learn, he didn't invent them. Étienne de Silhouette was an unpopular French finance minister in the 18th Century who imposed austerity measures so fierce that to do something 'à la Silhouette' became slang for to do it on the cheap. And having your silhouette cut or drawn was a lot cheaper then having a miniature painted...

I was going to illustrate this with a picture of a silhouette which is thought to be a self-portrait by Jane Austen. But unfortunately, I looked into it, and it turns out there's another, more persuasive theory which is: no it's not. So instead, here's a couple of mine. It turns out silhouettes are a good way of doing quick sketches of people sat next to you at the British Library, because it only takes a few crafty sideways glances now and then, and then the rest is just colouring in.

No, neither are self-portraits.