Wednesday, October 16, 2013

262. Carnival Memento: SOUVENIR SILHOUETTE

THE GREAT PROFILE.  A Manila Carnival silhouette portrait from 1936, a favorite souvenir from the national fair.

French Etienne de Silhouette, a chronic shadow cutter, gave his name to this simple art of portraiture, using a person's shadow as a template. It was a cheap way to capture one's likeness, making use of featureless profiles either traced from a shadow and then filled in with black ink or cut freestyle using black paper and a pair of scissors.

The Americans introduced this art form in the 20th century, but it did not catch on, only a few Filipinos mastered this craft (a certain artist named Marcelino practiced this art).

A few surviving examples come from the Manila Carnival area, which had booths that offered silhouette portraits as carnival souvenirs. This particular example is courtesy of the 1936 Manila Carnival. 

The profile of a man in a tuxedo is cut from textured black paper and mounted on a special hardboard that had the text, "Souvenir from the Manila & Carnival Exposition 1936". 

Silhouette souvenirs were also given away at the 1953 Philippine International Fair.

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