Étienne de Silhouette was a Controller-General of Finances under Louis XV. France's economy was running at a massive deficit due to the Seven Years' War, and in 1757 he was brought in to make savings. It's said that he saved the treasury seventy-two million francs before he had been in office twenty-four hours. However, his swingeing cutbacks were unpopular with the aristocracy and he was forced to resign after just eight months.
As you might have guessed, he gave his name to "silhouettes" (shadow profiles cut from dark paper on a light background) although the reason for this is still unclear. Some have claimed that making portraits in this way was a hobby of Étienne's. Others have suggested that it's a comment on his parsimonious nature - the implication being that money's so tight the artist can't afford the materials for a painting.