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The Face

Our Human Story

Debra N. Mancoff

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A thoroughly engrossing thematic study of the representation of the face on objects and in works of art from all cultures and throughout history


From sacred totems to playful caricatures, the face is the most revealing subject in the history of art: it defines our human identity. But how have different cultures depicted the face, and why has it been so central to artistic expression all over the world?

Debra N. Mancoff explores the depiction of the human face through the full range of objects and works of art in the collection of the British Museum, and discovers how the face subtly conveys the full spectrum of human emotion. The book is arranged thematically, and each chapter begins with a brief introduction before depicting faces in various visually led pairings and groupings. Some of the juxtapositions speak for themselves; others are explored through brief narrative captions. Many pairings raise a smile; others are surprisingly affecting. This book will both fascinate and delight the reader, offering insights into experiences that we all share as human beings and that our faces inevitably reveal.

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'Beautifully designed'
Antiques Diary

'Beautifully designed and illustrated, and intrigue, inspire and entertain in equal measure'
London Visitors

'Excellent … Thames & Hudson is to be congratulated on their presentation'
Yorkshire Gazette and Herald

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: PLC (no jacket)

Size: 19.0 x 17.0 cm

Extent: 304 pp

Illustrations: 363

Publication date: 20 September 2018

ISBN: 9780500518625

Contents List

Introduction • 1. Birth & Childhood • 2. Love & Beauty • 3. Everyday Life • 4. Faith & Ritual • 5. Rulers & Warfare • 6. Identity & Disguise • 7. Death & the Afterlife

About the Author

Chicago-based author Debra N. Mancoff writes about the intersection of art, culture and fashion. She earned her doctorate in Art History (Victorian Art and Culture) at Northwestern University and is a Scholar-In-Residence at the Newberry Library. Her books include The Face: Our Human History (British Museum/Thames & Hudson); Fashion in Impressionist Paris (Merrell); Danger! Women Artists at Work ( Merrell) Monet’s Garden in Art (Francis Lincoln); The Garden in Art (Merrell); The Pre-Raphaelite Language of Flowers (Prestel); and Icons Of Beauty: Art Culture, and the Image of Women (Greenwood).