barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Agostino Carracci (1557-1602)

Sheet of Caricature Heads

Parma, 1594

Pen and brown ink on paper

20.2 x 28 cm 


This sheet of about sixty head studies features idealised and naturalistic, but mainly fantastical and grotesque faces. The most realistic, at the lower centre, may be a self-portrait of Agostino Carracci. He and his brother Annibale are regarded as the first artists to have created caricatures. The caricature was not simply a way of drawing for comic effect but was also used to encourage careful scrutiny of the subject’s individual facial characteristics. This instructive process helped artists to understand how such details make each individual unique.

Purchased in 2016 (No. 2016.10) 

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