Fearful looks

Rmn-Grand Palais

RMN- Grand Palais

The Slaughter of the Innocents (17th Century) by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), Chantilly, musée CondéOriginal Source: Chantilly, musée Condé

Religious and mythological paintings showed their subjects suffering body and soul.

Poussin's Massacre of the Innocents depicts a distraught mother wide-eyed and screaming in fear of her child's imminent and agonizing death, which she can do nothing to prevent.

Andromache Mourning Hector (18th Century) by Jacques Louis David (1748-1825), musée du LouvreOriginal Source: Paris, musée du Louvre

David shows Andromache helpless and dramatically splayed out, looking skyward with eyes swollen from crying for her husband.

The Ballad of Lenore, or The Dead Travel Fast (19th Century) by Horace Vernet (1789-1863), Nantes, musée d'ArtsOriginal Source: France, Nantes, musée d'Arts

Romantic painters sought to create expressive figures and strong feelings, so produced ever more dramatic images:

The Flood (19th Century) by Anne-Louis Girodet De Roussy-Trioson (1767-1824), musée du LouvreOriginal Source: Paris, musée du Louvre

a man with a nightmarish look fighting for his family's survival during a terrible flood;

Orphan Girl at the Cemetery (19th Century) by Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863), Paris, musée du LouvreOriginal Source: Paris, Musée du Louvre

a helpless young orphan frightened by something or someone suddenly beside her;

The Sleepwalking Lady Macbeth (19th Century) by Johann Heinrich Fussli (1741-1825)Original Source: – https://www.louvre.fr/ Source

a haggard-looking Lady Macbeth standing at the gates of madness.

Shield with Gorgon's head (19th Century) by Arnold Becklin (1827-1901)Original Source: Agence photo de la Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais

The Symbolists took the same approach, such as Swiss artist Böcklin and his hallucinatory Medusa head with the most terrible expression in the history of humanity; the only being able to turn anyone who dares to gaze upon her to stone.

Credits: Story

We would like to thank:
- For design, illustrations, writing, and coordination of the RMN-Grand Palais project: Cécile Maisonneuve (Doctor of Art History, Policy Officer, Scientific Council), Nathalie Gathelier (National Museums Speaker), Annie Madec (Iconographer), Françoise Lombardi-Peissel (Project Manager) at RMN-Grand Palais.
- For reproductions: French museum collections represented by the Photo Agency of the Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais:
Montpellier, Musée Fabre; Versailles, Musée Lambinet; Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Paris, The Louvre; Paris, Centre Pompidou (Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre de Création Industrielle).

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Artistic expressions
How artists use eyes to express emotion in their artworks
View theme
Google apps