Going to Extremes: Physiognomy, Caricature, and Studies of Expression

Long before scientists started to systematically investigate facial expressions in the nineteenth century, artists explored facial features, created caricatures, and observed faces in movement. This selection of prints, drawings, and photographs speaks to a human fascination with depicting and reading faces and to the rich possibilities of a face's arrangements and their resulting impressions on a beholder. The works by Guercino, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and Thomas Rowlandson on view here demonstrate the influence of Leonardo da Vinci's grotesque figures and the development of caricature in early modern Europe. The art of caricature (from the Italian caricatura, meaning a "loaded portrait") featured an exaggerated and humorous representation of a specific individual and often built upon Renaissance theories of physiognomy, which claimed that an individual's character could be judged through his or her facial attributes. Later artists across diverse cultures continued to manifest an interest in extreme expressions using a variety of media. The opposite wall features a range of animated faces, moving from Clarence White's photographs of fear and grief to Japanese woodblock prints depicting kabuki actors and Ana Mendieta's distorted self-portraits. 

Veronica White 
Curator of Academic Programs 

  • 9222
    Wenceslaus Hollar, Bohemian, 1607–1677
    after Leonardo da Vinci, Italian, 1452–1519
    Old Man in Cap
    x1960-81
  • 48815
    Wenceslaus Hollar, Bohemian, 1607–1677
    after Leonardo da Vinci, Italian, 1452–1519
    Heads, ca. 1645
    x1937-286
  • 6319
    Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri), Italian, 1591 - 1666
    Woman with Deformed Lips, 1630s–40s
    x1948-1302
  • 6335
    Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri), Italian, 1591 - 1666
    Monk seated on a low bench, reading, 1630s–40s
    x1948-1312
  • 5788
    Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri), Italian, 1591 - 1666
    Two men in broad-brimmed, high-crowned hats, 1630s–40s
    x1948-1319
  • 7784
    Cesare Gennari, Cento 1637–1688 Bologna
    Caricature of a cook in a tall hat, holding a pestle
    x1948-690
  • 8352
    Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Italian, 1696–1770
    Caricature of a man in a map, facing left
    x1948-871
  • 8364
    Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Italian, 1696–1770
    Caricature of a standing fat man in a cap, facing left
    x1948-879
  • 8315
    Pier Leone Ghezzi, Italian, 1674–1755
    Man Leaving a Funeral, 1730s
    x1950-18
  • 7023
    Thomas Rowlandson, British, 1756/57–1827
    Man and camel
    x1948-1670
  • 7022
    Thomas Rowlandson, British, 1756/57–1827
    Man's head and sheep's head
    x1948-1669
  • 7014
    Thomas Rowlandson, British, 1756/57–1827
    Thirteen heads
    x1948-1664
  • 6066
    Guillaume Duchenne De Boulogne, French, 1806 - 1875
    Adrien Tournachon, French, 1825 - 1903
    Plate from Mechanisme de la Physionomie Humaine, 1862
    1995-134
  • 17237
    Constant Puyo, French, 1857–1933
    Untitled (Woman laughing), ca. 1900
    x1992-128
  • 50343
    Clarence H. White, American, 1871–1925
    Fear - A Study, 1899
    x1983-357
  • 42446
    Clarence H. White, American, 1871–1925
    Grief - A Study, 1899
    x1983-712
  • 60652
    Japanese, Edo period, 1600–1868
    Shunkōsai Hokuei, active 1829–1837
    Mitate: Arashi Rikan II as Hachiman Taro and Nakamura Utaemon III as Abe no Sadato
    2011-92
  • 60658
    Japanese, Edo period, 1600–1868
    Kunimasu
    Nakamura Utaemon IV as Ishikawa Goemon and Mimasu Daigoro IV as Mashiba Hisayoshi
    2011-40
  • 14339
    Max Kurzweil, Austrian, 1867–1916
    Published by Gesellschaft für Vervielfältigende Kunst, Austrian, 1871–1934
    Der Polster (The Cushion), 1903
    x1982-501
  • 87542
    Jean Rustin, French, 1928 - 2013
    Untitled, 1984
    x1992-180 m