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Character Head - The Yawner

CHARACTER HEAD - THE YAWNER
Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783), the very famous series of character heads...
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Character Head - The Yawner. Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783)

An idiosyncratic, recalcitrant German sculptor who created his famous series of ‘character heads’ first in Vienna and later in Bratislava.

The Vexed Man is one of a series of portait busts or 'character heads' made by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, an eighteenth-century German sculptor active in Austria. This bust portrays a middle-aged man with a sour expression, which seems to fall somewhere between a grimace and a scowl. The most telling aspect may be the furrowed brow above squinting eyes and a scrunched nose.

But natural cracks in the bust's alabaster surface seem to echo the topography of his skin, both softened by age yet hardened by the extreme expression, The man's receding hairline, wrinkles and sagging jawline contrast with tensed cheek and neck muscles. Although the character seems to express irritation and annoyance, it is not certain whether Messerschmidt intended that interpretation, because he did not give the bust a title.

This bust ad the series it belongs to reflect the intellectual concerncs of artists and scholars during the Enlightenment era, when a surge of interest in the sciences occured. Studies in physiognomy were highly at the time. Perhaps as influential was Messerschmidt's undiagnosed mental condition, which could have been schizophrenia. A contemprary wrote that Messerschmidt told him that by making the character heads, he hoped to ward away spirits that invaded his mind.

The Vexed Man is a replica based on the Original made of alabaster from Franz Xaver Messerschmidt
(Germany, after 1770). Today at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

hand made and hand painted.

Material: Resin
Height: 20 cm
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