Light and shadow

Medardo Rosso’s work is almost always small in size and depicts men, women, children, street scenes and portraits. For instance, he made sculptures of people in a bus, a breast-feeding child or, as in this case, a laughing woman. Just like the impressionist painters, light and shadow play an important role in all his work.

Human psyche

What makes Laughing woman so special is that she does not have a serene smile, but is laughing heartily, making even her teeth visible. But Rosso does not attempt to portray a friendly or cheerful woman. The sculpture is a result of his study of the human psyche and its corresponding expressions, in this case laughter.


This wax sculpture is typical of the subject matter and working method of Rosso. The brief moment of the woman’s cheerful laugh is captured extremely well and is very lifelike. Certain parts of her face, such as the eyes and hair are indicated sketchily, but these come to life completely through the effects of light and shadow.