Study of the Head of an Old Woman

Drawing of the face and neck of an old woman

Study of the Head of an Old Woman, ca. 1529
Red chalk
9 13/16 x 7 5/16 in. (25 x 18.6 cm)
The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; presented by a Body of Subscribers, 1846
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

For the pensive visage of St. Elizabeth (Mary's cousin) in The Medici Holy Family, Andrea generously applied red chalk to convey the wrinkled skin and crevices of the face of the older woman who miraculously conceived John, the prophet and baptizer of Christ. The drawing may have been produced before the full composition had been established for Andrea uncharacteristically included part of the figure that ultimately would not be painted: in the painting, her neck is obscured by the head of her son.

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