Silhouette and Lace Spring Tea - May 2009

On Saturday, May 30, 2009 the Marlborough Historical Society held its Silhouette and Lace Spring Tea at the Peter Rice Homestead. 

Surrounded by fresh flowers, guests chose from more than a dozen types of sandwiches and salads and more than two dozen different deserts, all served by attendants in period dress.  Many watched the lace making demonstration or the silhouette cutting, or examined the antique dresses on display.  And everyone enjoyed the harp music throughout the afternoon.

The menu included Holiday Chicken Salad with cranberries and pecans, Fruited Curry Chicken Salad with apples and raisins, Caribbean Chicken Salad with pineapple, and Salmon with Cream Cheese and Dill on pumpernickel.

Deserts included raspberry bars, chocolate eclair squares, macaroon kiss cookies, double-chocolate pecan balls, chocolate peanut butter dream bars, and lemon bars.

From left: State Representative Danielle Gregoire, Marlborough Historical Society President Janet Licht, Pat Stano-Carpenter, and Jeff Carpenter enjoy their afternoon at the Peter Rice Homestead.

Noted silhouette artist Jean Comerford cut silhouettes.  (Learn more about the history of silhouettes below.)

Lace maker Leis Stolk demonstrated the making of intricate Dutch bobbin lace. 

And Celtic harpist Linda Duchene played throughout the afternoon. 

Three of the servers who brought tea, coffee, and other beverages throughout the day.

Antique dresses were displayed throughout the Homestead

Wedding dress of Ella Bigelow
c. 1870
Donated by Mrs. Errol Cook, granddaughter of Ella Bigelow
249 Lakeside Avenue

Lady's Red Linen Dress
c. 1900
Donated by
Mrs. John Estabrook
Fairview Farm Collection
Bolton Street

c. 1860
Donated by Mrs. Colley
Whitman Estate
61 Northboro Road

c. 1870 - 1880
Donated by Pearl Duplessis Stevens

More about silhouettes

Silhouettes date from the early 17th century France, as explained in this article in the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation:

The name “silhouette” derives from the surname of an 18th-century finance minister to King Louis XV who, in 1757, lasted a mere eight months in his post due to his financial conservatism. Etienne de Silhouette's stringent monetary tactics proved overwhelmingly unpopular, and, as a result, things that were considered miserly or cheap were labeled à la Silhouette.

It is often suggested in the literature that the connection with the art was further cemented by Silhouette's own penchant for cutting profiles as a hobby, though that may simply be folklore.

Silhouettes became popular in 18th century America as a way to capture portraits of American aristocrats, politicians, and everyday people.