Head of a Man

Chalk drawing of a bearded man in profile looking right and up.

Federico Barocci (Urbino 1535–1612 Urbino)
Head of a Man, ca. 1589
Black chalk with orange, pink, and yellow pastel on blue laid paper
9 3/8 × 8 7/8 in. (238 × 225 mm)
Promised Gift from the Collection of Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.


A prolific draftsman, Federico Barocci in many ways anticipated some of the stylistic choices of younger generations of Italian painters. His pastel heads have been especially celebrated since the seventeenth century. Though often described as the artist’s way of recording poses quickly, many of Barocci’s pastel heads are at the scale of final paintings, which suggests that they were not drawn impulsively. This sheet is one such drawing; it overlaps precisely with the head of a young man sheltered under the cloak of the Virgin of Mercy in an altarpiece now at the Pio Sodalizio dei Piceni in Rome. Although the altarpiece was likely painted by workshop assistants in 1589–90, Barocci supplied them with numerous drawings such as this. As was customary in Barocci’s workshop, this sheet was re-used, with minor adjustments—in this case, in a series of altarpieces from the late 1580s and early 1590s.

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