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Paintings and drawings of grotesque heads in early modern Italy

Posted By Rebecca Norris, Monday, May 30, 2016
Updated: Friday, June 03, 2016

Paintings and drawings of grotesque heads in early modern Italy


Although the history of caricatured heads can be traced back to Antiquity, as an independent genre, depictions of strange, fantastic, comical and repulsive heads arguably stem from the influence of Leonardo Da Vinci’s systematic and experimental teste caricate, which soon became widely known and copied. Less programmatically Michelangelo too experimented with the genre, both in quick sketches and more complete works. Later exponents of the genre, each of whom contributed his own vision to its development, were Annibale Carracci, Ribera, Guercino, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and, later, Carlo Maratti and Pier Leone Ghezzi, all of whom produced substantial bodies of graphic caricature.


This session seeks to explore the development of the grotesque head as an early modern genre. Participants are particularly encouraged to put forward original readings of grotesque heads as depicted in drawings, paintings and prints, as well as those to be found in single and group portraits, or series. We hope to approach the subject from many angles and would welcome analyses of processes ranging from the ‘doodle’ to highly finished works; and discussions of the subject as a reflection of the human condition from socio-political stances, as well as the interaction between caricature and audience.


Please send proposals to Rebecca Norris and Lucia Tantardini by Monday, 6 June 2016.


As per RSA guidelines, proposals must include the following: paper title (15-word maximum), abstract (150-word maximum), keywords, and a very brief curriculum vitae (300-word maximum). See

Tags:  caricature  drawing  grotesque  painting  portrait  teste caricate 

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