Private Collection [sold, Sotheby's, London, July 3, 1989, lot 64]
Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, Ltd. (London, England)
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Head of a Man
Agnolo Bronzino (Italian, 1503 - 1572)
Italy (Place Created)
13.8 × 10.3 cm (5 7/16 × 4 1/16 in.)
Using delicate chalk strokes, Agnolo Bronzino built up the head of a young Florentine nobleman. Soft, careful lines create the curling strands of hair on his head, the pale fuzz on his chin, and his broad, piercing, almond-shaped eyes with their large irises. Numerous lines of cross-hatching create the darker shadows on the right side of the face and the long, elegant neck. Bronzino probably made this drawing from life; slight pentimenti in the right ear and eye imply adjustments made in front of the live model.
Bronzino drew this head as a study for a painted portrait of the young man, but no one has yet discovered the man's name. Technical analysis of the painting reveals that he made numerous changes on the canvas as he developed his composition. The Getty Museum's drawing therefore gives scholars an important idea of the artist's earliest conception of the portrait, probably even before he began to paint.