Head of a Man

Object Details


Head of a Man


Agnolo Bronzino (Italian, 1503 - 1572)




Italy (Place created)


about 1550 - 1555


Black chalk


13.8 × 10.3 cm (5 7/16 × 4 1/16 in.)

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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.


Private Collection [sold, Sotheby's, London, July 3, 1989, lot 64]


Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox Ltd. (London, England)

Portrait Drawings 1500 - 1900 (January 30 to May 12, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), January 30 to May 12, 1996
Posing for Posterity: Portrait Drawings from the Collection (October 30, 2001 to January 20, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 30, 2001 to January 20, 2002
Magnificenza! The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence (March 16 to June 8, 2003)
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit), March 16 to June 8, 2003
Michelangelo to Vasari: Drawing the Figure in Renaissance Florence (July 15 to October 19, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 15 to October 19, 2003
Bronzino Drawings (January 18 to April 18, 2010) (54)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), January 18 to April 18, 2010
Disegno: Drawing in Europe 1520-1600 (November 13, 2012 to February 3, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 13, 2012 to February 3, 2013