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Silhouettist Bios - The artists of antique silhouettes from the period of 1760 to 1860
Sarah De Hart, American Silhouettist (1759-1832)
Sarah De Hart
was one of the first American born silhouette artists and the earliest recorded American woman silhouettist.
was born on February 13, 1759 in Elizabethtown, NJ. (Although Charles Willson Peale is not known to have started cutting silhouettes until 1802, he
was born 18 years earlier than De Hart
, in Chestertown, MD in 1741.) De Hart's earliest discovered silhouette was cut when she
was twelve years old, in 1771.
Unlike the majority of American silhouettists who would come later, De Hart
hollow cut silhouettes without the aid of the physiognotrace devices that were so popular in the 19th century.
To date, no evidence has been discovered showing that De Hart cut silhouettes for profit, but she
certainly captured the heart of George Washington for whom she
cut several likenesses after visiting Mount Vernon with Washington's sister Abigail Mayo in 1786.
De Hart's work is extremely rare (possibly because she
only cut silhouettes for her
own pleasure and the pleasure of friends and family).
A group of about 130 of her
works descended through her
family until 1946 when the collection was sold to a collector.