Tormented looks

Rmn-Grand Palais

The Woman with Gambling Mania, 1820 (vers 1820) by Théodore Géricault (1791-1824)Original Source: Paris, Louvre Museum

L’histoire de la peinture comporte un fascinant cortège d’êtres aux regards étranges, tourmentés par la vie, écorchés par le temps, dépeints tantôt avec empathie, tantôt avec férocité.

Saint Francis in meditation (17th Century) by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, best known as Il Guercino (1591-1666), Montpellier, musée FabreOriginal Source: Montpellier, musée Fabre

Italian Baroque painter Guercino paints himself looking deeply bewildered, appearing to meditate on the vanity of the things of this world.

Old Women or Time (19th Century) by Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), Lille, Palais des Beaux-ArtsOriginal Source: Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts

The outrageously made-up eyes of Goya's old women conceal nothing: youth has long since abandoned them ...

... and time is gearing up to sweep them away altogether.

Theater Box, the Day of the Free Performance (19th Century) by Louis Léopold Boilly (1761-1845), Versailles, musée LambinetOriginal Source: Agence photo de la Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais

The colorful public who came in their swathes to a free event gave Boilly a pretext for a caricature teeming with outrageous glances.

The Blind Leading the Blind, circa1568 by Pieter Brueghel , le Vieux (1528-1569) (d'après), Paris, musée du LouvreOriginal Source: Paris, Louvre Museum

From Bruegel to Brauner, we have long been fascinated by exhausted, despairing, and deflated expressions which are no less intense if their bearer has one eye or is blind.

Self portrait (20th Century) by Victor Brauner (1903-1966), Legs Jacqueline Victor Brauner, 1986 ©ADAGP, Paris, 2018Original Source: Agence photo de la Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais

Qu’il soit aveugle ou borgne, le regard n’en est pas moins intense.

The Double Secret (20th Century) by René Magritte (1898-1967)Original Source: Paris, Centre Pompidou - Musée national d'art moderne - Centre de création industrielle

Magritte invites the onlooker to decipher the mystery behind the expression on a face with disrupted eyes.

Credits: Story

Nous tenons à remercier,
-pour la conception, l’iconographie, la rédaction et la coordination du projet Rmn-Grand Palais: Cécile Maisonneuve (Docteur en histoire de l’art, Chargée de mission, conseil scientifique), Nathalie Gathelier (Conférencière des musées nationaux), Annie Madec (iconographe), Françoise L.-Peissel (chef de projet) de la Rmn-Grand Palais.
-pour les œuvres reproduites : les institutions muséales des collections des musées de France représentées par l’Agence photographique de la Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais:
Paris, musée du Louvre; Dijon, musée Magnin; Beauvais, MUDO, musée de l'Oise; Rennes, musée des Beaux-Arts.

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