Master Drawing Mondays: Grotesques

Week 7

Two Grotesque Heads

Francesco Melzi after Leonardo da Vinci Two Grotesque Heads, 1510s?
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Copying Master Drawings is a long-standing tradition in the arts. Here is a wonderful example of a master copying another master. Francesco Melzi drew these two grotesque heads, after Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings. Leonardo is so famous for his beautiful portraits, scientific observations, and religious paintings the we often forget how many grotesques and caricatures he drew.

Leonardo da Vinci, Grotesque Head of an Old Woman, 1489/1490 pen and brown ink on laid paper
National Gallery of Art, Washington Gift of Dian Woodner 2022.84.1
After Leonardo da Vinci, Attributed Francesco Melzi
Four grotesque heads, including a caricature of Dante c.1517-20 The Royal Collection Trust

Other Examples

Francesco Melzi went on to draw grotesques and caricatures on his own.

Attributed to Francesco Melzi, Three Male Grotesque Heads
1491 or 1493-approximately 1570
The Morgan Library

Daumier is famous for his caricatures.

Honoré Daumier , Masks of 1831, published in La Caricature
March 8, 1832 MET Museum

Your Challenge!

This week’s challenge is something new: find a grotesque to copy! There are many wonderful examples by Leonardo da Vinci, Francesco Melzi, and Honoré Daumier especially. If you want to take it a step further, see if you can draw your own grotesque. I’m eager to see what wonderfully horrible things you come up with!

Wait… I missed what all of this is about!

The challenge of Master Drawing Mondays is to set aside time to copy a drawing. You can either choose from a book, or I will provide a weekly prompt from a museum collection. If you are on social media, use the hashtag #MasterDrawingMonday and tag me on Instagram @SarahHI. Let’s see how many out-of-practice artists we can encourage to take up a regular practice of copying the old masters!

Share your drawings on social media, or hang it on your mom’s fridge!


#MasterDrawing Mondays is free and open to anyone. All of the links on this page are to outside sources. I do not receive compensation for any sales of books or art supplies.


A figurative sculptor for over 20 years, Sarah tells monumental stories in clay, bronze, and stone.

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