Oct 4, 2010

Five Grotesque Heads

Five Grotesque Heads


Gaetano Gandolfi

(Italian, 1734–1802)

Pen and brown ink and brush and brown wash over black chalk

Support: Cream(3) laid paper

Sheet: 29.5 x 20.2 cm (11 5/8 x 7 15/16 in.)

Gift of Frederick M. Mayer 1969.277


Did you know?

The term "grotesque" derives from the Italian word "grotteschi," which refers to the grottoes found in ancient Roman houses that were rediscovered around 1500.


From an early age, Gaetano Gandolfi was admired for his drawings, many of which were created as independent works of art and avidly collected by Italian and British patrons. This drawing is one of Gandolfi’s so-called teste pittoriche, or pictorial heads. Devised by the artist in the 1770s, this genre is based on contemporary academic theories that proposed that human emotions could be scientifically classified by facial expressions.

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