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The Profiles of the Past initiative is focused on British portrait silhouette history, a story that developed over the last 250 years and which is still an intriguing part of life today.


The project is being developed by The Brunswick Town Charitable Trust via its Regency Town House Heritage Centre and members of the Silhouette Collectors Club. We are grateful to the Trustees of the Heritage Lottery Fund, for financial assistance.


As it develops, this website will offer a definitive virtual silhouette collection, materials about artists, production techniques, dating and appraising works, and various learning resources. It will also enable the public to upload their historic silhouettes, expanding the online collection and revealing hidden national treasures. Between 1 August and 14 September 2014, we are staging an exhibitions about silhouettes, at The Regency Town House.


Our project provides volunteering opportunities in research, exhibition design, project management, web design and more. To get involved contact Nick Tyson: +44 (0) 1273 206306 / nick@profilesofthepast.org.uk


We offer a gallery of exemplar silhouettes, representing production over the last 250 years,  allowing you to explore the country's rich silhouette heritage. Each image is supported by a full record entry.  More...

Full length silhouette of a Brighton Town Crier
A possible Gallery picture?


During the Georgian period, a variety of silhouette machines were invented.

Illustration of silhouette machine, showing woman seated in chair, with artist taking her profile on the otherside of a shadowgraph screen
A silhouette machine

We have built copies of a number of these and are offering the public the chance to try using them and making them.  More...


Find out about the professional cutters and painters who made silhouettes. Read their extended biographies, discover which materials and methods they used, and where they worked.  More...

Artists' biographies and work details


Working with the University of Brighton, School of Humanities Silhouette Research Group,  we have undertaken a research project about the material culture of silhouettes and related dress history. There was a workshop on this topic, in 2013, at The Regency Town House - review the workshop programme (17Kb .doc file). At this time, the treatise, 'Profiles of the Past: Silhouettes, Fashion and Images 1760-1960' was released. Download this publication as a 2.5Mb file .pdf file. Download the 6.4Mb version (better quality graphics)

Soon, we will offer a series of papers by leading historians which contextualise silhouette history in relation to themes such as: family, home, and war.  More...


Explore the many different materials and techniques used to make silhouettes. Paper, plaster, glass and ivory, regular scissor cuts,  hollow cuts, painting and drawing; they all had a role!  More...

Photograph of two pairs of 19th C scissors
19th C silhouette scissors

Join in

You can add your family's silhouette/s to our online collection.  More...

Silhouette portrait of a man facing left
A treasured family record

Interested in silhouetes? You are not alone. Perhaps you would like to join the Silhouette Collectors Club?