The Art of the Silhouette is an old one, dating back to the early 1700s. A unique opportunity to see this craftsmanship in action will be available at the Union County Heritage Museum on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the annual Christmas event with Santa.
This year Sarah Rick, Silhouette artist from the Mississippi Craftsman Guild, will be demonstrating her artwork by cutting silhouettes. Additionally, there will be free holiday crafts for children.
Great for gifting, the cost of a sitting is $25, and to cut two of the same person is $30. It takes about 10 minutes per sitting, and reservations are now being taken for the sittings by calling the museum at 662-538-0014 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Rick will be available for sittings from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10.
Santa will be at the museum for youngsters to give him their Christmas lists, and there will be hands-on crafts for children. The event is co-sponsored by the Historic Northside District Garden Club. There will hot chocolate and cookies, too!
The history of the old art of silhouette dates to the early days of the European royal families, who would hire a silhouette artist to amuse their guests at the balls by capturing the profiles, also known as shades, of their Lords and Ladies, wearing the latest fashions and elaborate wigs. The early artists were many time painters, who were seeking a less expensive and quicker product that was inexpensive enough to be given away.
While the aristocrats were eating like kings and having their elegantly coiffed silhouettes captured, much of Europe was starving, especially in France. It is ironic that in the 1760s, the minister of the French people, Etienne de Silhouette ( for whom the art is named), had merciless tax policies. He was so hated by the people that they wore black, mimicking his paper cutouts. They called themselves “a la Silhouettes, we are too poor to wear shadows.” Today, although the negative connotation does not remain, the hated minister’s name denotes the art of the silhouette.
In the 1800 the art grew in popularity and there were many silhouette artists who came to America. Some catered to the rich and to politicians, others other traveled the countryside going to small towns to capture the profiles of the ordinary folk.
The art began to diminish in the 1930s, as this was the time that photography became possible. But the nostalgia for the art remains.
Sara Rick of Sallis, Mississippi, has been cutting silhouettes at events and special occasions for many years. She has a degree in art history from Swarthmore College and studied life drawing and painting at the New York Studio School.
For more information about Santa at the museum and to reserve a time for a silhouette, call 662-538-0014.