The Last Silhouettist

A modern-day silhouettist tells his story. Charles Burns writes about his research into the art and history of silhouette. On the way he meets some fascinating characters, both ancient and modern.

A royal profile or two

A royal profile or two

On the 19th May I was invited to cut a royal profile or two at Coworth Park. It was one of the only events I've worked at where the toastmaster had to announce lunch by calling for "Your Majesties, Royal Highnesses, Highnesses, Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen... " to take their seats.  (more…)

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A Windemere Wedding

A Windemere Wedding

A couple of weeks ago I was cutting silhouettes at a wedding in Windermere.  It was cold, wet and windy, as you would expect from the Lake District in late summer. The hotel in use for the reception had a couple of interesting early-Victorian full-length silhouettes on the wall.  One of the teenage guests asked me about them as I did her own silhouette, so I told her they were first cut from paper and then embellished with gold paint, and to judge by the look of them they probably dated from about the 1840's.  Without a moment's hesitation she replied: "Oh, did you do them then?" (more…)

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A wedding proposal

A wedding proposal

I was cutting caricatures at a student ball a couple of weeks ago when I received a strange request. A student was planning to make a wedding proposal to his girlfriend, and was looking for an original way to do it. Seeing me in action, he asked me to cut a silhouette of them both while he did so. (more…)

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Flying at the Garrick Club

Flying at the Garrick Club

I was very surprised on arriving at a recent 60th birthday party at The Garrick Club to see a silhouette flag flying outside, with one of my own silhouettes on it. I felt I'd arrived! The Garrick Club, with it's interesting collection of portraits, is a great place for an artist to work at any time. On that day my artwork was the most prominent.The silhouette flag silhouetteThe silhouette had been cut by me, nearly 10 years earlier at a corporate event. It was the reason I'd been booked of course.

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