A Plethora of Time Periods and History

costumeSilhouettes By Hand specializes in an immersive portrait experience – for in-person presentations in educational or artistic locations, the portrait comes with fascinating discussion about the history of silhouette portraiture. Since portraiture is simply ‘images of people’, the interpretation is about our history… of almost everything.

If you’ve been wondering what eras “Silhouettes By Hand” features – the exciting answer is ‘all of them': all eras featuring the popularity of  silhouette portraiture in society. Starting in the mid 1700’s, silhouette portraiture ramped upwards, including the eras of the Revolutionary period (1780’s), the Federal Period (1790-1820s), War of 1812, Antebellum/ Victorian period, Industrial Revolution, Civil War, into the late 1800’s, and even just after 1900. Even modern events are made more exciting by this interactive (and quick) live artist portraiture.

Your artist Lauren Muney has done painstaking research not only into the authentic clothing but also the history and cultural details of these many eras; museums and other educational facilities will be overjoyed with Silhouettes By Hand‘s presentation. (Authentic tintype photograph of Lauren, done by Harrington Traveling Photographic Artists, Winchester, VA, 2012)

While modern events may not need historic commentary, authentic clothing, or setup, contemporary requests can be assured that the same attention to detail and guest attention will be offered at every event.

Here is a sample of presentation styles:

ColonialColonial, into Revolutionary (1730-1780s):

During the mid- to late 1700s, this era featured the growth of the United States, Canada, and the continuing expansion of the English reach. Authentic clothing includes correct natural fibers, period-correct undergarments such as stays, stockings, period-correct shoes, and hats. The people ranged from rustic to rich, and the attitudes, objects, and clothing reflected the variations in the culture. The wealthy  (“better sort”)  had portraits painted, the small middle class (“middling sort”) could only afford silhouettes, and the poor class (“lowest sort”) could afford nothing but bare subsistence.

RegencyFederal and Regency, into War of 1812 (1790-1812)

This was the real self-discovery of the new United States, and a period of decadence (not to mention confusion) in Britain. The American government sought to define itself and also to understand its place in the world. During this English Regency and American Federal periods, women’s clothing featured high waistlines, long “column” dresses, and bonnets or hair buns – a reflection of the “rediscovery” of the Greek and Roman culture, “neoclassicism”. It is during this period that silhouettes had their most favored status, due to the excitement of physiognomy (determining character by facial features), and possibly the new commercial options due to expanded trade routes, American self-reliance, and new inventions.

IndustrialAntebellum, Victorian, and Industrial Revolution (1830-1900 )

The names of this era become a little confusing because the Victorian period extended for over 60 years. This was an era of new industrial developments, social improvements, and even new home improvements. The people went through boom and bust periods. During these eras, which can loosely be described from around 1830 well into the early 1900s, show some of the most romantic and iconic women’s clothing: varying widths of sleeves and skirts, enlarging petticoats and hoops, dropping waistlines, new booties, corsets, hats or bonnets, and tucked hair. Photography was invented during time period, although it was still in limited use until it became more inexpensive towards the latter 19th century; silhouettes were waning for common people for many reasons. During these decades, Harvest Fairs have great enthusiasm and importance.

CivilWarAmerican Civil War (1861-1865)

There were many social and economic impacts throughout the United States during this time, deeply shown by the rift of the war. However, not every continent was burdened by a major war; many countries were enjoying growth and development during this era. During this era, women’s clothing featured full hoops and yards of fabric, bonnet and hats, and sometimes there was a stark difference between the rich and poor. Bodies were quite covered while people struggled to cover ‘rudeness’.

OldWestOpening of the West (1870-1880)

The American West brings both cowboys and “fancy folks” looking to enjoy the benefits of the new opportunities. Silhouettes were on the wane, but not lost entirely. The frontier was open to those willing to do hard work under difficult circumstances.

steampunk“Steampunk” (1870-1880)

The “Steampunk” era (think:  Jules Verne stories and inventions) imagines a time when steam created all engines towards a modern time-journey; Victorian design combines with science fiction.

Turn of the century (1900-)

The new century was very exciting, both to celebrate the new and to be nostalgic about the old. While some people embrace new inventions such as the automobile, others look backward at the ‘old style’ handmade artist work.

modernModern Day (now)

In today’s busy world, black tie or other festive dress can be a entertaining as a set of clothing from the past. Classic vests, bowtie, flirty skirts or designer dresses – most modern theme requests can easily be accommodated, showing off this classic portrait form to delighted visitors and guests.