Artist Annibale Carracci’ s caricatures and Leonardo da Vinci’ s grotesque heads reveal the elements of caricature and an understanding of physiognomy, to a greater extent. The creations of Albrecht Durer, Johann Caspar Lavater, and Sir Thomas Browne also demonstrate a close association with the characteristics of caricature art. Similarly, one personally endorses Sandra Cheng’ s concepts on monstrous caricatures, which also appear as more relevant to the discipline of physiognomy, as compared to Della Porta’ s caricatures. Thesis Statement: The basic thesis of this paper is that the caricature works of Della are surpassed by the other artists such as Carracci, Da Vinci, Durer, Lavater, Browne, Cheng, and others, in terms of reflecting the characteristics of caricature art, as well as in depicting an understanding of the discipline of Physiognomy.
The argument will be based on physiognomy and caricature development in Europe between 1500-1750. Tracing European visual culture from the perspective of physiognomy, Porter (2005) states that the first printed versions of medieval physiognomy emerged in the 1470s. The context of physiognomy in relation to the art discipline of caricature gradually in popularity, and by the 1770s with the appearance of Johann Caspar Lavater’ s treatise Physiognomische Fragmente, the impact of physiognomy on European thought was immense.
The early modern phenomenon of physiognomy developed from ancient, Islamic, and medieval forms of the discipline. However, an integration of physiognomy with medicine characterised late medieval learned physiognomy7. Martin Porter’ s narrative on the development of caricature ends with 1780; however, the ‘ golden age’ of the discipline spanned the period 1759-18388. Visual satirical forms particularly those created by hand as single-sheet caricatures, developed further in latter half of the 18th century, to achieve great dimensions in its repertoire as well as in the extent of its influence and magnitude of output9.
The further considerable expansion in caricature art during the turn of the 18th-19th century has been recorded by political historians.
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