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157 FACES and one pair of hands

Faces, Catalogue 49 from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee | Print DealerIt is the common wonder of all men, how among so many millions of faces, there should be none alike” commented Sir Thomas Browne (1605 – 1682) in his book ‘Religio Medici’.

Though the catalogue title specifies “157FACES there are considerably more, in fact 229, if the multiple heads in some of the 157 catalogued items are tallied. Equally there is more than “one pair of hands, but only one item whose subject is exclusively a pair of hands.

Seymour Haden’s intriguing ‘self-portrait’ of just his hands printmaking is an indication of the expressive importance of hands too in portrait making. Quite a number of the portraits here include hands, more often a single hand, holding an ‘attribute’ such as a paintbrush, or a palette, a book or a pen, in several instances a cigarette. There are prominent hands, elegant hands, well-observed hands. And two noticeably hidden hands; both Voltaire and fellow French philosphe Dalembert anticipate Napoleon with one hand thrust inside the jacket.

This catalogue offers an entertaining mixture of different faces. Faces from different centuries, in a variety of styles, faces of men and women, even babies, animals and a doll. Secondary sculpted and painted faces, reflections in mirrors, masks and caricatures. Images full face, and in profile; one in silhouette. Eyes that engage the viewer and eyes that are closed or looking inward. A great variety of hairstyles and headgear. Faces that are arresting by nature or form and those that are significant because of whom they identify.

Among the latter, faces of such artists as Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Géricault, Rodin, Berthe Morisot, Gauguin, Whistler, Roger Fry and Wyndham Lewis. Also studies of themselves by several ‘serial’ self-portraitists, William Strang, Käthe Kollwitz, Max Liebermann, Ludwig Meidner and Foujita, as well as a non-self portrait by Daumier, where he gives ‘himself’ the exaggerated features of his collaborating editor and caption-writer Charles Philipon. Divers portraits of writers – Voltaire, Winckelmann, Goethe, Kipling, Ruskin, Housman, Maugham, Ibsen, Victor Hugo, Verlaine. And other notables of their day.

Since the Renaissance rediscovery of appreciation of individual achievement we are curious to know what famous people from the past looked like. And while acknowledging the fallacy, we have a recurring tendency to read faces as an expression of the inner person.

Faces, Catalogue 49 from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee | Print DealerConversely, a fine portrait image can stimulate research both into the life of the person depicted and of the artist. And within a diverse group of prints such as that presented here, acquired ad hoc from wide ranging sources, intriguing sub-themes emerge, specific relationships, coincidences and cross references become apparent in the process of cataloguing them.

Recognition of faces is central to the human experience. As babies, the first object of our developing focus is the reciprocal watchful gaze of a parent’s face. From childhood-on the ability visually to distinguish another individual’s cast of features contributes to the successful interaction with our immediate world and with society at large, and determines many of our relationships. Faces matter to us, they are unique personal identifiers that mark us out to others. We do not wish to lose face. We put on a brave face. People remember faces when they cannot recall names.

Most of all it is other people’s faces that are important to us, our own faces we see less frequently and only in reverse in the mirror. As the limerick writer Anthony Euwer (born 1877) put it But my face – I don’t mind it; because I’m behind it; It’s the folk out in front I jar.

I hope the selection of portraits here will not jar, but give pleasurable interest.

Published Summer 2011
64 pages, 158 illustrations, 13 being in colour.

(UK Price: £12, International orders: £15)

Prints still available
A selection of prints from this catalogue is still available and will be added shortly within the Selections section of the website.

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Artists included in the catalogue:

  • Asselin M
  • Auerbach A
  • Austin F
  • Ayrton M
  • Bardey J
  • Becker A
  • Beckmann M
  • Belleroche A de
  • Belleroche W de
  • Berton A
  • Blampied E
  • Boissieu J J de
  • Bolswert S à
  • Bone M
  • Boxall E
  • Bracquemond F
  • Brockhurst G L
  • Brockway H
  • Brüning M
  • Bryden R
  • Castiglione G B
  • Cogniet L 
  • Copley J
  • Cotman J S
  • Daumier H
  • Dagoty J B
  • Degas E
  • Delacroix E
  • Delâtre E
  • Desboutin M
  • Dodd F
  • Dongen K van
  • Dupuis C
  • Dyck A van
  • Fairclough W
  • Faithorne W
  • Fantin H de Latour
  • Foujita T
  • Fry R
  • Fussman K
  • Galanis D
  • Gautier D’Agoty J B
  • Gavarni G S
  • Ginger P
  • Goya F
  • Grossman E M
  • Haden F S
  • Hartrick A S
  • Harvey H J
  • Heintzelman A W
  • Hill F
  • Hogarth W
  • Ilsted P
  • Jope A
  • Kauffmann A
  • Jackson F E
  • Jahn G
  • Jennis G C
  • Kilian (Circle of)
  • Knopff F
  • Kollwitz K
  • Lambert E
  • Lang E
  • Laurencin M
  • Legros A
  • Leoni O M
  • Lewis C G
  • Liebermann M
  • Lumsden E S
  • Manet E
  • Mediz-Pelikan E
  • Meidner L
  • Menpes M
  • Menzel A von
  • Montfried D de
  • Moreau L A
  • Müller F
  • Nanteuil R
  • Neeffs J
  • Newton E
  • Nicholson W
  • Orlik E
  • Osborne M
  • Pricke R
  • Pryse G Spencer
  • Rajon P
  • Redon O
  • Rembrandt
  • Rhead G W
  • Rodin A
  • Rothenstein W
  • Sandys F
  • Sené L
  • Simpson J
  • Sloane M A
  • Smith J T
  • Stauffer Bern K
  • Strang W
  • Sullivan E J
  • Sutherland G
  • Thomas P
  • Turner M Dawson
  • Vorsterman L
  • West J W
  • Wolfsfeld E
  • Worlidge T
  • Zorn A

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