Art Kaleidoscope

Between art and craft

Silhouette paper cut art

Unknown artist of the XVIII century. Silhouette of Russian Grand Duke Paul Petrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna with sons Alexander and Constantine, planting a tree in front of the bust of Catherine II. 1784 - 1785. The State Hermitage Museum, Silhouette paper cut art

Unknown artist of the XVIII century. Russian Grand Duke Paul Petrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna with sons Alexander and Constantine, planting a tree in front of the bust of Catherine II. 1784 – 1785. The State Hermitage Museum, Russia. Silhouette paper cut art

Silhouette paper cut art
In fact, this is one of the oldest kinds of art, and its first traces – found in ancient China. The explanation is very simple – paper cut art appeared with the invention of paper in China. The ancient masters drew on paper, wrote Chinese characters, and used for government documents. However, the Chinese have gone even further. They used to cut silhouettes out of paper, stack them on the window, and the whole effect of this appeared in the evening, when the light lit the windows. Also, different cut silhouettes belonged to different national beliefs of the Chinese.

Silhouette paper cut art

Silhouette paper cut art

Meanwhile, the Chinese did not know the word “silhouette”, as we call it today. The word “silhouette” appeared in the 18th century in France. At that time there lived the Minister of Finance at the royal court of Louis the 15th, named Etienne de Silhouette.

Born in Limoges, Etienne de Silhouette traveled through Europe, lived in London, where he studied the practical economy and financial system of Great Britain. On his return to Paris, he translated a few English scientific papers on the economy, which made him famous.

In March 1759, appointed general financial controller of France, he tried to reform the tax system and reduce the exorbitant costs of the royal court. Stringent austerity measures imposed by de Silhouette, intensed criticism of court circles. In November 1759 Silhouette had to leave his post.

But that’s not all. He invented a new method of entertainment, that is, he thought of to trace the shadow of his guests, painting them on the walls. Oddly enough, but nobody before him had such an idea. His guests liked the minister’s silhouettes, and the glory of his silhouette art quickly spread throughout every corner of France and Europe.

Rejoicing in such glory Etienne de Silhouette even created his own museum and various shadow silhouette profiles. Noteworthy, even the poor people could afford cutting silhouettes out of paper. That was so simple, and the word “silhouette” inherited its rightful name of Etienne de Silhouette.

Fortunately, Silhouette art has not lost its status. Thus, silhouette pictures appear in advertising, heraldry, icons, and in the company logo.

And this post, in particular, features the series of silhouette paper cut ‘Dream Papercut’ created by silhouettists Dmitry and Julia.

“We are creating paper silhouettes, each from a separate sheet of paper, where each item is connected with others. Each work tells a story. We are inspired by nature, life and the people who love what we do.
Cutting out the paper – an amazing process when you start with a sheet of paper, and end with a beautiful work of art. Each work takes from several hours to several days. For us, these silhouettes are not just paper, we put our love, care and happiness into it. We really believe that people looking at our work, may feel the same as us.”

Silhouette paper cut art

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