Charles-Nicolas Cochin le Jeune (after)
Concours pour le prix de l’étude des têtes et de l’expression [Competition for the prize for the study of heads and expression] 1763
etching and engraving
Colin Holden Charitable Trust
To cement the importance of facial expression in portraiture, a new academic competition, or concours, was introduced to the French national art school in 1759. Participating students competed to produce the most physiognomically accurate depiction of a live model displaying a particular expression or emotion; for example, melancholy, modesty, rage, triumph or joy. Interestingly, this work’s focus on the nuanced expressions across the faces of the students, judges and model in this scene parallels the artistic exercise of the concours itself.