Exhibitions/ About Face

About Face: Human Expression on Paper

At The Met Fifth Avenue
July 27 / 2015–December 13 / 2015
Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

Exhibition Overview

The representation of human emotion through facial expression has interested western artists since antiquity. Drawn from The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collections of drawings, prints, and photographs, the diverse works in this installation, ranging from portraits and caricatures to representations of theater and war, reveal how expression underpinned narrative and provided a window onto the character and motivations of the subjects, the artists, and even their audience.

Anchored by Charles Le Brun's Expressions of the Passions (Caractères des passions) and Guillaume-Benjamin-Armand Duchenne de Boulogne and Adrien Tournachon's photographic series The Workings of Human Physiognomy (Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine), this selection of works, dating from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century, traces the means through which artists such as Hans Hoffman, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Thomas Rowlandson, and Francisco Goya explored the animated human face.


The exhibition is made possible by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.


Exhibition Objects



Charles Antoine Coypel (French, 1694–1752). Medea, ca. 1715. Pastel; 11 9/16 x 8 1/8 in. (29.4 x 20.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1953 (1974.25)