Art/ Collection/ Art Object

[Paper Silhouette Portrait of a Woman]

Unknown (American)
After T. P. Jones (American)
Image: 8.3 x 7 cm (3 1/4 x 2 3/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg Gift, 2004
Accession Number:
Not on view
Silhouettes and photographs share a similar origin in the cast shadow. Tracing a person's shadow created a silhouette portrait that served as an enduring reminder of a fleeting presence-an elegy based on the simple principles of light and dark-while fixing a shadow chemically resulted in some of the earliest known photographs, which were themselves silhouettes of leaves placed directly on sensitized paper. However, the first photographic process, unveiled in 1839, was the daguerreotype, which produced a unique image on a highly polished sheet of copper. The daguerreotype quickly became popular for portraiture and began to encroach upon the territory of talented miniature painters and silhouettists such as T. P. Jones, the maker of the silhouette reproduced in this daguerreotype. This object is essentially a portrait of a portrait-both a keepsake and a reproduction that suggests the replacement of one American portrait tradition with another.
[David Winter, New York]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Old Faces and Places: American Photographs, 1845-1870," February 3, 2004–April 25, 2004.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 55," December 13, 2010–April 4, 2011.

This copy of a paper silhouette was cut from white, not more typically, black paper. The paper itself is blindstamped by the silhouette maker, below the bust: "T. P. JONES // FECIT" Jones worked in Schenectady, New York in the early nineteenth century.
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