A pair of silhouettes mounted onto Life beach postcards by Baj B

Baj B: the Lido Beach Silhouettist

BAJ B. IS ONE of my favourite silhouettists. I’ve learned a lot from looking at the best of their silhouettes (I’ve no idea whether Baj was male or female, so will use the non-gendered third person). At their best there are silhouettes I would struggle emulate. 

As an avid collector of Baj B I run some of my virtual studio days in tribute to this artist.

Baj B stamps and labels

Baj B was meticulous about labelling their silhouettes.The silhouettes I’ve collected come with a bewildering variety of stamps and printed labels, most  of which identify the artist as either “Baj. B”, “Bay B.”or simply “Baj”. I’ve no idea what the second “B” stands for, but they used the name in Baj Italy and Bay in France.

Stamps with dates from 1907 to 1924
Some of the many stamps and labels used by Baj B to identify their silhouettes.

The little I know about the artist comes from looking at the silhouettes.  These tell me that Baj was probably Italian and spent a number of years in the early 1920s cutting silhouettes on the fashionable Lido Beach in Venice. They used a set of souvenir postcards to mount the silhouettes, which must have been printed specially as each includes the artist’s name. I guess each client had to choose which background they wanted from a choice of at least eight (but I suspect a dozen or so).

Silhouette of a man with moustache, spectacles and cap facing left/
This lively cutting of a young man in cloth cap and wing-collar shirt reminds me of a character from Peaky Blinders! It shows Baj at their best – the neat and inventive cutting of the wing collar is truly wonderful.

The earliest Baj silhouettes I’ve seen date from 1907 and were cut at an exhibition in Bordeaux, France. There are also a number of undated silhouettes which could have been cut anywhere in Europe around this time.

The silhouettes

Baj silhouettes vary from mediocre to truly extraordinary. Many of them include delicate pencil shading at the back the collars. Although I’ve never seen an unlabelled Baj silhouette, I know this would be a sure way to attribute it if I did.

There’s a silhouette in my collection I call the “Peaky Blinders” cutting . It’s one of those few silhouettes I look at and immediately know I couldn’t do that. The small scale and intricate collar cutting would be beyond me at a live event. The line of the glasses is cut in a single slash almost right through the head, while the head is held to the body inly by two slender slivers of paper (the back of the collar being open and shaded in with pencil).

This, of course, is the real reason I collect these unknown artists. Every so often, they teach me something new. Baj B is just such an artist.

Three silhouettes in a row
A series of Lido Beach silhouettes, each stuck to a printed postcard with a different photo of Lido Beach. So far I’ve seen eight versions of this card, but suspect there are many more.

Further information about Baj B.

  • None available (please contact me if you have any)
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