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Two Expressive Heads


These two paintings, which are of similar subjects and identical in size, were almost certainly intended as pendants, or companion pieces, to be hung together. The men portrayed here are evidently poor – their ragged clothing is roughly stitched together, one suffers from a swollen goitre on his neck and the other has missing teeth – but the artist’s portrayal is entirely sympathetic. These men are full of character, their expressions lively and engaging. The loose, animated brushwork adds to their sense of immediacy.

The style and subject of these paintings are typical of Giacomo Francesco Cipper, who specialised in painting low-life scenes of beggars, street-sellers and vagabonds in Milan – a genre in which another painter working in Lombardy, Giacomo Ceruti (1697–1767), later excelled.