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What is the term called, named after a Frenchman, that refers to profile paintings of human faces that are usually black and white and only show contours?

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silhouette n.

  1. A drawing consisting of the outline of something, especially a human profile, filled in with a solid color.

  2. An outline that appears dark against a light background. See Synonyms at outline.

tr.v. silhouetted, silhouetting, silhouettes: To cause to be seen as a silhouette; outline: Figures were silhouetted against the setting sun.

[French, after Étienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), French finance minister.] [AHDEL]

  • 3
    I honestly did not know this was named after a person. Well done, Edwin. – Dan Bron Aug 14 '14 at 19:37
  • 1
    In all honesty, if I ever did, I'd forgotten. It seemed to fit, though. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 14 '14 at 19:38

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