Adventures in Reading

Jane Austen & The Silhouette

The ever informative Jane Austen’s World recently had a post on period silhouettes and those produced of Jane, which I read (along with the links) with much enjoyment. The other afternoon while reading David Irwin’s Neoclassicism I came across quite an important Neoclassical link between silhouettes and antiquity. Certainly silhouettes did not suddenly just appear, but rather silhouettes represent the classical idea of the invention of art through the tale of the Corinthian maid.

“The girl was the daughter of a potter in Corinth. Her boyfriend was about to embark on a perilous journey to foreign lands, taking only his spear and dog. As a memento, she traced her sleeping lover’s silhouette onto the wall. Her father then used the drawing to model a clay relief, which he baked in his kiln to create a ceramic keepsake” (The National Gallery).

This post’s image is The Corinthian Maid (1782 – 1784) by Joseph Wright from the National Gallery of Art.