Guillaume-Benjamin-Armand Duchenne de Boulogne, Adrien Tournachon Plate 52 from the chapter The Muscles of Weeping and Wimpering in The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression (1862) 1852–56

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How much of the expression of emotion is mechanistic? A lot, according to Duchenne de Boulogne, who was curious to explore the relationship between authentic emotions and involuntary muscular contractions. Can feelings be feigned, and alternatively, can they be induced? To aid his experiments, he enlisted the latest developments in electricity and photography, inducing localized shocks timed to the camera’s exposure. Duchenne devoted a section of his study of facial expressions to aesthetics. He compared the photographs to celebrated sculptures and paintings, believing that his theories held value for artists and performers.

Gallery label from 2019
Albumen silver print from a wet-collodion glass negative
8 7/8 × 6 13/16" (22.5 × 17.3 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Heidi and Richard Rieger
Object number

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