Leonardo’s Weird Faces

Leonardo Face1

Leonardo Face1

[All images are from Frank Zöllner, “Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings and Drawings,” Taschen]

[Leonardo’s] drawings often of men and women with strangely deformed or exaggerated features — which he called “visi mostruosi,” or “monstrous faces,” and which scholars call “grotesques” — were distributed widely, and avidly copied.

Leonardo Face2

Leonardo Face2

… One of his favorite private pastimes was to draw faces, either as scribbles in the margins of his notebooks or as fully conceived sketches….

Leonardo Face3

Leonardo Face3

… Leonardo would often follow strange-looking individuals to try to memorize their faces so that he could sketch them later.

Leonardo Face4

Leonardo Face4

“He was essentially interested in body language and how it’s related to emotions and character.”

Leonardo Face5

Leonardo Face5

Leonardo Face6

Leonardo Face6

(Nina Siegal, “Why Did Leonardo Draw These Weird Faces?” NYTimes, 10-7-18)

(c) 2018 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to Leonardo’s Weird Faces

  1. cindy knoke says:

    He is so amazing. These look like exaggerated human dysmorphology.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JMN says:

      I encountered these images in my big book several years ago and assumed they were caricatures to some extent at least. The article in the Times shed some new light on them for me. The article makes the interesting point that none of these “grotesque” faces made it into any of his paintings for some reason. I agree with you that Leonardo is amazing!


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