Now known to represent a darkened shape shown as someone’s portrait, the word actually comes from a French politician who did the unforgivable- tax rising for the rich.

Yes indeed- following the Seven Year War, France was in a very bad financial state and something had to be done. That’s when Etienne de Silhouette, the finance minister, ordered to take a bit more from those who have more. Good idea if you ask me. However, he was shortly fired (of course) and came to be known as cheap. Ever since, the French added the adjective silhouette to anything that was cheap, such as the silhouette portraits that were much cheeper to paint (compared to full size portraits) and were thus considered the portraits of the poor.


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Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.

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