Object Image

As part of their training in the late 18th century, French artists practiced drawing têtes d'expression, or expressive heads, that display subtleties of human emotion. Greuze made this chalk study in preparation for a painting in which the Roman emperor Septimius Severus rebukes his notoriously ruthless son, Caracalla, for attempting to assassinate him. Although Greuze based this face for the figure of Caracalla on a Roman portrait bust, he imaginatively adapted the facial expression to dramatize Caracalla's resentment and humiliation during the confrontation.

Credit: Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund...

c. 1768
Red chalk on cream laid paper
38.8 x 30.3cm
Image and text: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2023

Where you'll find this

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Permanent collection