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Silhouette cutting originated in the early 1700’s. Silhouettists were hired as an amusement by those that could afford it in society, the artist attending the extravagant event and cutting the profiles of the distinguished company. All the latest fashions and elaborate wigs were thereby captured and are available today as an excellent social record. This in itself is a reason to collect and study silhouettes. The art of silhouette cutting reached its “golden age” in the 1800’s, artists travelling to county fairs and small towns capturing the profiles of a multitude of ordinary people and therefore contributing to social history. The art form moved across the Atlantic too. This was also the time of miniature portraiture, but the cost was outside the range of most people’s income, so the comparatively inexpensive option for silhouettes before the advent of the film camera was the easiest way to record the generations.



HMS Marlborough



Boy Facing Right