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Helen Hatch Inglesby


Helen Hatch Inglesby, Boy with Kite, undated. Silhouette on paper. Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia. Gift of the Robert Powell Coggins Art Trust.


Over the course of her lifetime, Savannah native Helen Hatch Inglesby (1914-1999) produced hundreds of works in a variety of media including oil, watercolor, pencil, and even etching. Yet in Savannah, she was best known as the "Silhouette Lady." Inglesby possessed a natural and possibly inherited talent for cutting silhouettes, as her father and his mother had done before her. She produced her first work at age four, an ambitious image of a Japanese woman carrying a baby on her back. She began to create silhouettes in earnest during an extended bout with scarlet fever at age seven that left her bedridden for several weeks.


Originally called "profile shades" or "shadows," silhouettes gained popularity at the English and French courts during the 18th century. The art form soon proliferated among the middle classes as an affordable alternative to painted portraiture. Silhouettes reached the peak of their popularity in America during the early 19th century, prior to the introduction of photography.


While Inglesby earned commendations and extra income from her silhouette portraits, her most ambitious silhouettes are complex and charming visual narratives, often focusing on children at play. Inglesby was clearly both a keen observer and a great admirer of children. Her little ones are always at play, toting dolls or sporting cowboy hats and toy guns, playing baseball or dress-up, disporting themselves with an eager menagerie of dogs, cats, and ducks. Affection and appreciation for the "Silhouette Lady" lives on in the city today. Inglesby's work is held in many local collections as well as that of the Morris Museum of Art.


MAKE YOUR OWN SILHOUETTE

Supplies:

printed picture (of a side profile)

black paper

scissors or x-acto knife

backing paper

glue


Instructions:

  1. Tape your picture on top of the black paper

  2. Cut out the profile of the person (or pet)

  3. Optional* We used some of our old artwork as backing paper, you can decorate yours, pick a classic white, or go with a bright solid color

  4. Glue the silhouette to the backing paper

  5. Write the name of the person and the date

Thank you to our Curator of Education Matt Porter for posing for this artwork!




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