A Grotesque Head (c.1502; Italy) by Leonardo da Vinci

A Grotesque Head - Leonardo da Vinci - c.1502; Italy

Artwork Information

TitleA Grotesque Head
ArtistLeonardo da Vinci
Datec.1502; Italy
Dimensions39 x 28 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance
Current LocationChrist Church, Oxford, UK

About A Grotesque Head

The artwork titled “A Grotesque Head” is attributed to the renowned Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, dating back to circa 1502. This work from the High Renaissance era is fashioned out of chalk on paper, measuring 39 by 28 centimeters. As a characteristic sketch and study, it is presently housed at Christ Church in Oxford, United Kingdom.

The artwork depicts a male profile with markedly exaggerated features, which fulfill the genre’s definition of a grotesque. Leonardo da Vinci is known for his studies of human physiognomy, and this piece represents a deeper exploration of human facial characteristics. The subject’s nose is prominent, with an exaggerated curve and his lips are full and seem to be mid-expression or speech. The furrows and lines in the face suggest an intense character, perhaps reflective of certain emotions or expressions. The hairstyle is depicted in intricate, swirl patterns which add to the overall ‘grotesque’ nature of the study.

The subtle use of shade and the mastery of the medium convey depth and three-dimensionality, illustrating da Vinci’s skill in portraying human form with a hint of caricature. As a study, it offers insights into Leonardo’s interests in anatomy and his keen observation skills which clearly went beyond merely aesthetic representation to include character and essence.

Other Artwork from Leonardo da Vinci

More High Renaissance Artwork

Scroll to Top