The Constipated One, from the Series of Character Heads

Franz Xaver Messerschmidtafter 1770

Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg

Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg
Nuremberg, Germany

The "Character Heads" by Messerschmidt display elementary human passions. They reflect the interest of the Enlightenment in the physiognomy and experience of feelings. Reduced to clear contours and relatively few motifs, they are imbued with a maximum of expression. The expression of this Character Head reflects a "mental spasm" and soon led to the popular interpretation of the figure as a constipated "quince and dumpling gorger". Another theory sees it as a possible allusion to the magnetizing therapies of the controversial and that time famous doctor Franz Anton Mesmer to unblock engery in human bodies.


  • Title: The Constipated One, from the Series of Character Heads
  • Creator: Franz Xaver Messerschmidt
  • Date Created: after 1770
  • Location: Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, permanent exhibition "Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment"
  • Physical Dimensions: H 30,5 cm x B 21 cm x T 21 cm
  • Provenance: Acquired by Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg
  • Rights: Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg (Foto: GNM / Dirk Messberger)
  • Medium: lead
  • Art Movement: Baroque
  • Artist Dates: 1736 - 1783

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