Silhouette as Art and Entertainment

In light of tonight’s lecture, we just wanted to take a moment and highlight one of the more interesting silhouettes in the Harvard Theatre Collection. I suppose some might argue that it is not a proper silhouette insomuch that it is drawn rather than cut. Still, it is lovely and rare contemporary image of the great actor David Garrick (1717-1779), one we suspect is based upon a painting┬áby Benjamin van der Gucht in the Royal Collection Trust (an engraving after the painting can be seen here).

MS Thr 153.1

Miniature portraits in this vein became extremely popular in the late eighteenth century and Houghton Library holds hundreds of silhouettes of prominent artists and scholars in its collections. During the nineteenth century, travelling silhouette arts brought the art to the masses, working at fairs, festivals, and other places of leisure. As Mr. Burns will demonstrate this evening, it is a tradition that continues to this day and we hope you will join us for what promises to be an entertaining event.