Monday, December 5, 2011
There's evidence dating back to the first century in Greece of back-lit portraits - what we refer to today as "silhouettes." I have no idea what this art form was named before Étienne de Silhouette. (1709-1767) It is interesting to discover how this art form took his name. After all, there's no historical evidence of his having a talent for such art.
As it happens,he was the Minister of Finance in 1759 in the court of Louis XV. Just like today, he had the ungrateful task of controlling the deficit and raising enough money to finance the Seven Years' War against Britain.
M. Silhouette's austerity moves made him unpopular and gained him a reputation of being a penny-pincher. The phrase, a la Silhouette became a common phrase for anything done on the cheap. In the same period, shadow cutouts were very popular and inexpensive. And that, dear reader, is how these forms of portraits became known as "silhouettes."
Isn't it fun to know the history of words? Do you have a favorite word with a history you know?
Posted by R-Atencio Art at 4:39 PM