Study for the Head of St. John the Baptist

Drawing of a young man's face looking to the left

Study for the Head of St. John the Baptist, ca. 1523
Black chalk
13 x 9 1/8 in. (33 x 23.1 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Woodner Collection

Drawn at the same scale as the painting it prepares, this head study must have been produced late in Andrea's design process and may have been transferred directly to the panel. The artist's handling of chalk brings to life the adolescent's features — playfully tousled hair, eyes looking askance, and lips slightly parted — and underlines that the sacred beings in Andrea's paintings were often rooted in models of flesh and blood.

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