Introducing Joseph Ducreux (1735-1802)

Le Discret by Joseph Ducreuxducreux002


Introducing Joseph Ducreux, yet another artist strongly motivated by physiognomy, that most maligned of sciences.

Joseph, baron Ducreux (17351802) was a French portrait painter whose early portraits include those done of the connoisseurs Pierre-Jean Mariette, the Comte de Caylus (Oeuvres badines et galantes du comte de Caylus) and Ange-Laurent de la Live de July.

Physiognomy (Gk. physis, nature and gnomon, judge, interpreter) is a theory based upon the idea that the assessment of the person’s outer appearance, primarily the face, may give insights into one’s character or personality.

6 thoughts on “Introducing Joseph Ducreux (1735-1802)

  1. peacay

    I wonder if anyone would find this style attractive today? I couldn’t imagine either paying money for this type of work, let alone hanging it in a space that someone might see. Or at least, it would take a special location. I don’t hate it and I appreciate that it’s of it’s time and valid blah blah, but really, it’s supremo high art kitsch isn’t it? Maybe I’m being a bit harsh..

  2. jahsonic

    anyone would find this style attractive today?

    I think few people found it attractive in its day.

    it’s supremo high art kitsch isn’t it?

    I’d buy it and hang it if I had the money. But I would also buy a Hummer and paint in pink, so that does not make me much of a reference, does it?

    Good to see you here, Mr. BibliOdyssey!

  3. Paul Rumsey

    I would hang them on the wall, I think that they would look excellent if in the right context, in a house full of the sort of prints found in the BibliOdyssey book, like for example the Louis-Leopold Boilly “Le Concert” on page 134.

  4. peacay

    Heh. Touché Paul. Maybe they would grow on me. Usually I like that sort of frozen facial tic amongst other clutter, a la Hogarth/Gilray/Boilly &c.

    I saw a whole bunch of Boilly physiognomic caricature/satires yesterday at the NLM actually.

  5. Paul Rumsey

    Thankyou for the Boilly link Peacay.
    Actually I know what you mean about the Ducreux, I think that the problem is the medium, the oil paint makes them a bit too real, print has more of a distance. But if they were hung with other caricatures they would be easier to live with.
    The one pointing at the viewer reminds me of those celebrity types who get up on stage and point to random members of the audience and grin, pretending to recognise them.

  6. Paul Rumsey

    …. but I think that he is probably meant to be laughing AT the viewer.
    The more I think about these pictures the more I like them. The one yawning would look great in a bedroom or lecture theatre, and the one with his finger to his lips would be good for a library.

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