Four Studies of a Male Head

Object Details

Title:

Four Studies of a Male Head

Artist/Maker(s):

Workshop of Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)

Culture:

Flemish

Date:

about 1617 - 1620

Medium:

Oil on panel

Dimensions:

25.4 x 67.9 cm (10 x 26 3/4 in.)

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Skillfully copying a study by Peter Paul Rubens, this unknown artist, probably an assistant in Rubens's studio, explored a variety of facial expressions and poses while retaining the liveliness and immediacy of Rubens's original sketch. Using a single dim source of light, he created strong contrasts of brightness and shadow on the man's skin, varying these along with the different expressions. He aptly captured Rubens's great achievement--the three-dimensional quality of his modeling and the pulsating vitality he bestowed on painted human flesh.

Rubens produced a celebrated series of studio heads, executing some from life and inventing others from imaginary stock figure types. He kept these preliminary studies permanently on hand in the studio for reference. These studies of an African may have been used as a source for one of the kings in the Adoration of the Magi, who was often depicted as a Moor. Aside from this subject, images of African figures were uncommon in European Renaissance and Baroque art.

Provenance
- 1777

William Anne Capell, fourth earl of Essex, 1732 - 1799 (Cassiobury Park, Hertfordshire, England) [sold, Essex sale, Christie's, London, January 31, 1777, lot 65, to Edward Smith-Stanley, twelfth earl of Derby.]

1777 - 1834

Edward Smith-Stanley, twelfth earl of Derby, 1752 - 1834 (Knowsley Park, Lancashire, England), by inheritance to his son, Edward Smith-Stanley, 1834.

1834 - 1851

Edward Smith-Stanley, thirteenth earl of Derby, 1775 - 1851 (Knowsley Park, Lancashire, England), by inheritance to his son, Edward Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 1851.

1851 - 1869

Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, fourteenth earl of Derby, 1799 - 1869 (Knowsley Park, Lancashire, England), by inheritance to his son, Edward Henry Stanley, 1869.

1869 - 1893

Edward Henry Stanley, fifteenth earl of Derby, 1826 - 1893 (Knowsley Park, Lancashire, England), by inheritance to Frederick Arthur Stanley, 1893.

1893 - 1908

Frederick Arthur Stanley, sixteenth earl of Derby, 1841 - 1908 (Knowsley Park, Lancashire, England), by inheritance to Edward George Villiers Stanley, 1948.

1908 - 1948

Edward George Villiers Stanley, seventeenth earl of Derby, 1865 - 1948 (Knowsley Park, Lancashire, England), by inheritance to Edward John Stanley, 1948.

1948 - 1971

Edward John Stanley, eighteenth earl of Derby, 1918 - 1994 (Knowsley Park, Lancashire, England) [sold, Derby sale, Christie's, London, June 25, 1971, lot 12, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Exhibitions
Flemish Art 1300 - 1700 (December 5, 1953 to March 6, 1954) (Cat. 326; p. 97 (as van Dyck))
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), December 5, 1953 to March 6, 1954
Exhibition of Pictures by Sir Anthony van Dyck (July 27 to August 10, 1963) (p. 6, no. 4 (as Van Dyck))
  • Fermoy Art Gallery, (King's Lynn), July 27 to August 10, 1963
Sir Anthony van Dyck (November 7 to December 7, 1968) (10; as van Dyck)
  • Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd., (London), November 7 to December 7, 1968
The J. Paul Getty Collection (June 29 to September 3, 1972) (Cat. 48)
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, (Minneapolis), June 29 to September 3, 1972