Silhouettes machines at The Regency Town House

As is mentioned in the section on 'Methods', silhouette artists during the late-18th and early-19th centuries designed a wide variety of silhouette machines. In some cases, these devices were used by the unskilled to produce simple portraits that earned them a living at travelling fairs and similar events. In other cases, expert artists employed the devices as a way of establishing a scientific credibility for their work - an embracing of the machine and the progress and philosopy of the age.

We have built copies of several traditional silhouette machines of the shadowgraph variety, and we have been fortunate to have been gifted a copy of a 'physiognotrace', by the professional silhouette artist, Charles Burns. This device is designed along the lines of Mr Schmalcalder's patented machine, albeit the actual look of the machine is more in keeping with that used by John Volger in the USA.

We have made an animation, below, of shadowgraph machine with an inbuilt pantograph to reduce the size of the portrait.


We have made design drawings for a shadowgraph machine, you may also be interested in the information about silhouette machines and the video demonstration of one working at: