(profiles of figures). These very popular "silhouettes" were named after Etienne de Silhouette, Louis XV's Minister of Finance.
Large silhouette by Samuel Metford, 1845
image from: www.antiques-atlas.com
The decorative arts
The advent of etching and engraving, new methods of duplicating prints, provided the wealth of material that inspired the glorious 17th- century decoupage. After the invention of the Gutenberg press (c. 1450), the popularity of prints created a new European industry of print publishing. There were hundreds of master printers in 16th-century Venice; the Remondini of Bassano published a variety of designs on fine paper made specifically for decorating furniture. There was a remarkable selection of styles and subject, classic and oriental, pastoral and worldly; all manner of botanical flora and fauna, both real and imaginary. Flowers and fruit were consistently used, arranged in bouquets or large cornucopias, hung in garlands and strewn in ribbons. Scenes of romance, music, and dance combined architectural gardens inhabited by large and small animals, domestic and fanciful birds, and butterflies in flight. The fantasy word of mythology, allegory, heroics, and grotesque art were combined with heraldic signs and symbols. Printmarkers in Nuremberg and Augsburg made many series of prints for the popular German decoupage.
The East India Company's opening of trade routes with China, Korea, Siam and Japan developed a flourishing import business. Early 17th-century Europe was captivated and demand for magnificent lacquered objets de Chine far exceeded supply. To fill a demand and fatten their own purses, the European Guilds began imitating oriental lacquer furniture and decorative objects.
A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing by John Stalker and George Parker (Oxford 1688) become the practical guide for imitating the oriental lacquer, and described how to make, use, polish shellac to a high luster. Later the Japanese produced a finer lacquer of superior luster and patina. A mixture of shellac and alcohol, sandracca, became the European substitute for lacquer, which was unavailable.