Art UK has updated its cookies policy. By using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. To find out more read our updated Use of Cookies policy and our updated Privacy policy.

Close

Sculpture is often regarded as a rather serious, even earnest art form. This may be influenced by the hardness and permanence of most materials used in sculpture. And much like early photography, where sitters typically were depicted as rather serious and formal, perhaps the softness that a smile can give is often not part of the brief to the sculptor. So I’d imagined that it would be difficult to find many examples of figurative sculpture and portrait busts showing people smiling, or even having a chuckle. Happily, I was wrong.


Here are examples of broad, happy smiles; from the earliest cheeky faces of gargoyles, to important figures from the past beaming from ear to ear, right through to creative contemporary sculpture.

65 artworks
Head Stop
Photo credit: Historic Environment Scotland

Head Stop 14th C

unknown artist

Stone

H 13 x W 12 x D 11 cm

Historic Environment Scotland

Betty Boothroyd (b.1929), Baroness Boothroyd OM, PC, Hon., FSLL
© the artist. Photo credit: Sandwell Museums Service Collection

Betty Boothroyd (b.1929), Baroness Boothroyd OM, PC, Hon., FSLL 2002

Shenda Amery (b.1937)

Bronze

H 63 x W 45 x D 20 cm

Sandwell Museums Service Collection

James Hunt (1947–1993)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: National Motor Museum Trust

James Hunt (1947–1993)

R. Sefton

Metal

H 14 x W 8.5 x D 8.5 cm

National Motor Museum Trust

Head of a Gargoyle*
Photo credit: National Museums Scotland

Head of a Gargoyle*

unknown artist

Stone

H 9.5 x W 9 x D 9.5 cm

National Museums Scotland

Alfred Thomas Eggington (b.1888)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Leicestershire County Council Museums Service

Alfred Thomas Eggington (b.1888)

Nirava Kavya

Bronze & wood

H 55 x W 42 x D 28 cm

Leicestershire County Council Museums Service

Wynford Vaughan-Thomas (1908–1987), CBE
© Tracy Tinker. Photo credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales

Wynford Vaughan-Thomas (1908–1987), CBE 1981

David Tinker (1924–2000)

Plaster

H 18 x W 15 x D 15 cm

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales

Rt Hon. Clare Short (b.1946), MP
© the artist. Photo credit: Keele University Art Collection

Rt Hon. Clare Short (b.1946), MP

Shenda Amery (b.1937)

Bronze

Keele University Art Collection

Primrose
Photo credit: Rotherham Heritage Services

Primrose 1874

Robert Glassby (1835–1892)

Terracotta

H 36 x W 26 x D 22 cm

Rotherham Heritage Services

Head of a Small Boy
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Nottingham City Museums

Head of a Small Boy 1946

Bruno Simon (1920–1999)

Bronze

H 22.5 x W 4.4 x D 5.5 cm

Nottingham City Museums

Lacquerware Holy Man
Photo credit: Sandwell Museums Service Collection

Lacquerware Holy Man

unknown artist

Wood & lacquer

H 49 x W 22 x D 19 cm

Sandwell Museums Service Collection

Bust of a Woman
© DACS 2020. Photo credit: Estorick Collection, London

Bust of a Woman 1952

Giacomo Manzù (Manzoni) (1908–1991)

Bronze

H 60 x W 45 x D 32 cm

Estorick Collection, London

Elsie Widdowson (1906–2000)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: The Royal Society

Elsie Widdowson (1906–2000) 1974

Margo Bulman (1913–2003)

Bronze

H 31.5 x W 16.5 x D 20 cm

The Royal Society

Dr Robert Woof (1931–2005)
© the artist. Photo credit: The Wordsworth Trust

Dr Robert Woof (1931–2005) 2006

Andrew Sinclair (b.1961)

Bronze

H 35 x W 26.5 x D 27 cm

The Wordsworth Trust

Lionel Tertis (1876–1975), Holding his Viola
© the artist. Photo credit: Royal Academy of Music

Lionel Tertis (1876–1975), Holding his Viola 2006

Benjamin Dearnley (b.1964)

Bronze

H 63 x W 53.5 x D 40 cm

Royal Academy of Music

Sir Naim Dangoor (1914–2015)
© the artist. Photo credit: Royal Society of Medicine

Sir Naim Dangoor (1914–2015) 2017

Nadey Hakim (b.1958)

Bronze

H 47 x W 43 x D 35 cm

Royal Society of Medicine

Niki Lauda (1949–2019)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: National Motor Museum Trust

Niki Lauda (1949–2019)

R. Sefton

Metal

H 14 x W 8.5 x D 9 cm

National Motor Museum Trust

Laughing Boy
Photo credit: National Museums Scotland

Laughing Boy mid-18th C

Joseph Nollekens (1737–1823) (possibly)

Terracotta

H 34.3 cm

National Museums Scotland

John Keble (1792–1866)
Photo credit: Keble College, University of Oxford

John Keble (1792–1866)

George Richmond (1809–1896)

Plaster

H 57.5 x W 28.5 x D 27 cm

Keble College, University of Oxford

Mirth
Photo credit: The Stroud District (Cowle) Museum Trust Collection

Mirth

Joshua Wall (1835–1869) (possibly)

Plaster & granite

The Stroud District (Cowle) Museum Trust Collection

'Now ... call forth your actors'
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Chelmsford Museums

'Now ... call forth your actors' 1973

Nancy Edwards (b.1926)

Fibreglass

H 134 x W 100 x D 90 cm

Chelmsford Museums

Johnny the Jig
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Ards and North Down Borough Council

Johnny the Jig 1952

Sophia Rosamond Praeger (1867–1954)

Plaster

H 105 x W 44 x D 40 cm

Ards and North Down Borough Council

Bust of an Unknown Mayor
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Southend Museums Service

Bust of an Unknown Mayor

George Alfred Holman (1911–1980)

Plaster

H 50.7 x W 46.5 x D 24 cm

Southend Museums Service

Max Miller (1894–1963)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Lawrence Suss / Art UK

Max Miller (1894–1963) 2003–2005

Peter Webster (b.1958)

Bronze & limestone facing over concrete

H 276 x W 60 x D 60 cm

John Bird as a Boy
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Roebuck Collection

John Bird as a Boy c.1925–1935

Cecil Thomas (1885–1976)

Bronze

H 34 x W 19 x D 21 cm

Roebuck Collection

Mischief (L'espiegle)
Photo credit: Manchester Art Gallery

Mischief (L'espiegle)

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827–1875)

Bronze

H 51.5 x W 24 x D 26 cm

Manchester Art Gallery

Ray Gravell (1951–2007)
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales

Ray Gravell (1951–2007) 2010

John Meirion Morris (1936–2020)

Bronze

H 31 x W 21 x D 18 cm

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales

Canon Thomas Gisborne (1758–1846)
Photo credit: Durham University

Canon Thomas Gisborne (1758–1846) 1840

Charles Raymond Smith (c.1799–1888)

Marble

H 70.5 x W 49.5 x D 27 cm

Durham University

Linda
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Penlee House Gallery & Museum

Linda 1951

Barbara Tribe (1913–2000)

Terracotta & wood

H 23 x W 16.5 x D 13 cm

Penlee House Gallery & Museum

Alexander I (1777–1825)
Photo credit: The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Alexander I (1777–1825)

Enoch Wood (1759–1840)

Biscuitware

H 51 x W 70 x D 26 cm

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Charlotte Gray
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: The Munnings Art Museum

Charlotte Gray c.1908

Edwin Whitney-Smith (1880–1952) (after)

Plaster

H 42 x W 13.5 x D 14 cm

The Munnings Art Museum

Rakan, Han-taku-ka Figure
Photo credit: Horniman Museum and Gardens

Rakan, Han-taku-ka Figure 1868–1912

unknown artist

Porcelain, paint & gilding

H 22.9 cm

Horniman Museum and Gardens

Seated Children
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: National Trust Images

Seated Children 1934

Sophia Rosamond Praeger (1867–1954)

National Trust, Gunby Hall

Ian Ricketts
© the artist. Photo credit: University of Surrey

Ian Ricketts 2012

Christine Charlesworth (b.1949)

Bronze

H 47 x W 42 x D 25 cm

University of Surrey

Lord Lindsay of Birker (1879–1952)
© the artist's estate / Tate Images. Photo credit: Keele University Art Collection

Lord Lindsay of Birker (1879–1952)

Jacob Epstein (1880–1959)

Plaster

H 41 x W 25 x D 25 cm

Keele University Art Collection

Professor C. G. Chesters (1904–1993), Professor of Botany and Head of Department of Botany (1944–1969)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: The University of Nottingham

Professor C. G. Chesters (1904–1993), Professor of Botany and Head of Department of Botany (1944–1969) 1993

Gordon C. Brown

Bronze & marble

H 43 x W 38 x D 19.5 cm

The University of Nottingham

Moyang Pipit (the Sparrow Spirit)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Horniman Museum and Gardens

Moyang Pipit (the Sparrow Spirit) 1989

Semi bin Awas (active 1987–1989)

Wood

H 30.5 x W 13.5 x D 19.5 cm

Horniman Museum and Gardens

Nubian Man
Photo credit: Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries

Nubian Man

Ambros Bei

Plaster

H 65 x W 54 x D 30 cm

Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries

Durga
Photo credit: Torquay Museum

Durga c.1900

unknown artist

Alabaster

H 35 x W 22 x D 10 cm

Torquay Museum

Marianne (1800–1862), Lady Clifford Constable
Photo credit: Burton Constable Hall

Marianne (1800–1862), Lady Clifford Constable 1830s

Lorenzo Bartolini (1777–1850) (attributed to)

Marble

H 79 x W 49 x D 29 cm

Burton Constable Hall

David Lloyd George (1863–1945)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Amgueddfa Lloyd George Museum

David Lloyd George (1863–1945) 1920

William Alex Culliford

Wood

H 38 x W 19.9 x D 18.2 cm

Amgueddfa Lloyd George Museum

The April Fool
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

The April Fool 1978

Anthony Earnshaw (1924–2001)

Plastic & wood

H 50.5 x W 34 x D 14.3 cm

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

Second Portrait of George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)
© the artist's estate / Tate Images. Photo credit: Bolton Library & Museum Services, Bolton Council

Second Portrait of George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) 1934

Jacob Epstein (1880–1959)

Cast bronze

H 40.5 x W 22.5 x D 28 cm

Bolton Library & Museum Services, Bolton Council

Lydia Lopokova (1892–1981)
© the artist's estate / Tate Images. Photo credit: University of Aberdeen

Lydia Lopokova (1892–1981) 1960

Jacob Epstein (1880–1959)

Bronze

H 41 x W 24 x D 27 cm

University of Aberdeen

The Doctor Laughs
Photo credit: Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum

The Doctor Laughs 1880–1900

Percy Fitzgerald (1834–1925) (attributed to)

Plaster

H 28 x W 17.5 x D 12.5 cm

Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum

Donald Campbell (1921–1967), World Land and Water Speed Record Holder
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: The Ruskin Museum

Donald Campbell (1921–1967), World Land and Water Speed Record Holder 1964

Christian Forward (active 1964)

Clay

H 30 x W 17 x D 13 cm

The Ruskin Museum

Bust of Boy
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Wigan Arts and Heritage Service

Bust of Boy

John Griffiths

Wood

H 26.5 x W 29.5 cm

Wigan Arts and Heritage Service

Tragi-Comic
© Essex Collection of Art from Latin America. Photo credit: Essex Collection of Art from Latin America

Tragi-Comic 2002

Patricio Grose Forrester (b.1967)

Oil on raquet cover

H 80.5 x W 26.5 x D 3 cm

Essex Collection of Art from Latin America

Mr Nadhmi Auchi (b.1937), Philanthropist
© the artist. Photo credit: Royal Society of Medicine

Mr Nadhmi Auchi (b.1937), Philanthropist 2005

Nadey Hakim (b.1958)

Bronze

H 57 x W 46 x D 26 cm

Royal Society of Medicine

Lewis Falk (d.1954), President of the Letchworth Arts Society, Owner of the Garden City Embroidery Works, Chairman of 'The Settlement'
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Garden City Collection
Head of a Girl
© the copyright holder & © the copyright holder. Photo credit: Chelmsford Museums

Head of a Girl

Thomas Bayliss Huxley-Jones (1908–1968) and Gwynneth Holt (1909–1995)

Plaster

H 16 x W 10 x D 16 cm

Chelmsford Museums

Voltaire (1694–1778)
Photo credit: Taylor Institution, University of Oxford

Voltaire (1694–1778) 18th C

Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828)

Marble

H 48 x W 21 x D 17 cm

Taylor Institution, University of Oxford

Chin Fan
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Williamson Art Gallery & Museum

Chin Fan

Jean Illich (active 1924 or before)

Bronze

H 43 x W 23 x D 11 cm

Williamson Art Gallery & Museum

Italian Shepherd Boy
Photo credit: Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries

Italian Shepherd Boy 19th C

Italian School

Alabaster

H 83 x W 29 x D 49 cm

Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries

Robot Family
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Simon Maddison / Art UK

Robot Family c.1975

Simon Axford Jones (active c.1975)

Concrete

Man and Woman
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Emery Walker's House

Man and Woman

A. Kaven

Wood

H 19.2 x W 10.6 x D 5.5 cm

Emery Walker's House

'Oor Wullie': Verdant Works Statue
© the artist. Photo credit: Dundee Heritage Trust

'Oor Wullie': Verdant Works Statue 2016

Pam Kelly (b.1964)

Resin & paint

H 16.8 x W 21.5 x D 12.3 cm

Dundee Heritage Trust

Sir (Howard) Kingsley Wood (1881–1943)
© National Portrait Gallery, London. Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir (Howard) Kingsley Wood (1881–1943) 1982

Peter Lambda (1911–1995)

Bronze

H 25.4 cm

National Portrait Gallery, London

Head of a Smiling Girl
Photo credit: Nottingham City Museums

Head of a Smiling Girl

William Reynolds-Stephens (1862–1943)

Plaster

H 21.5 x W 11 x D 12.5 cm

Nottingham City Museums

Diddlin’ Davie
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Glenesk Folk Museum

Diddlin’ Davie

Ernest J. Lang

Plaster

H 40 x W 34 x D 30 cm

Glenesk Folk Museum

Sculpted Pole
© the copyright holders. Photo credit: Cliff Palmer/Art UK

Sculpted Pole

Tom Leach and John Marder

Wood

H 560 x W 45 x D 45 cm

Clementine, the Living Fashion Doll
© the artist. Photo credit: Bruce Castle Museum (Haringey Culture, Libraries and Learning)

Clementine, the Living Fashion Doll 2014

Mark Mander (b.1980)

Wood, paint, textiles & feathers

H 51 x W 40 x D 3.5 cm

Bruce Castle Museum (Haringey Culture, Libraries and Learning)

Graham Hill (1929–1975)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: National Motor Museum Trust

Graham Hill (1929–1975)

unknown artist

Bronze

H 30 x W 20 x D 21 cm

National Motor Museum Trust

Carved Male Head
Photo credit: American Museum & Gardens

Carved Male Head mid-19th C

unknown artist

Wood

H 46 x W 20.7 x D 26 cm

American Museum & Gardens

Helen Bradley (1900–1979)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

Helen Bradley (1900–1979)

unknown artist

Bronze & wood

H 20 x W 19 x D 20 cm

Gallery Oldham

Michael Little
© the artist. Photo credit: The Beacon Museum

Michael Little 2009

Paul Bainbridge (b.1943)

Bronze & sandstone

H 44 x W 24 x D 33 cm

The Beacon Museum