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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged Physiognomy:

Physiognomy with Charles Le Brun

Charles Le Brun was a French painter and art theorist. Declared by Louis XIV ”the greatest French artist of all time”, he was a dominant figure in 17th-century French art. He also established a correlation between the human face and that of the animal whose spirit characterises a particular emotion.

The goal of physiognomy is to judge character according to features of the face. Le Brun studied the lines linking different points of the head in a complex geometry which revealed the faculties of the spirit or character. Thus, the angle formed by the axis of the eyes and the eyesbrows could lead to various conclusions, depending upon whether or not this angle rose toward the forehead to join the soul or descented toward the nose and mouth, which were considered to be animal  features. Here are some of the many drawings by Charles Le Brun which concern the correlation between the human face and that of the animal.

Image one, for instance, shows the relationship between human features and that of a camel.

[Images Source]

(Source: charleslebrun.com)

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736 – 1783) was a German-Austrian sculptor most famous for his “character heads”, a collection of busts with faces contorted in extreme facial expressions.

It appears that for many years Messerschmidt had been suffering from an undiagnosed digestive complaint, now believed to be Crohn’s disease, which caused him considerable discomfort. In order to focus his thoughts away from his condition, Messerschmidt devised a series of pinches he administered to his right lower rib. Observing the resulting facial expressions in a mirror, Messerschmidt then set about recording them in marble and bronze. His intention, he told Nicolai, was to represent the 64 “canonical grimaces” of the human face using himself as a template … Messerschmidt [also] explain[ed] his interest in necromancy and the arcane, and how this also inspired his character heads. MORE.

(Source: Wikipedia)