Head of a Woman

Three-quarter view chalk drawing of a woman's face.

Guido Reni (Bologna 1575–1642 Bologna)
Head of a Woman, 1620s or early 1630s
Black, red, and white chalk on faded blue laid paper
11 1/2 × 8 15/16 in. (292 × 227 mm)
Promised Gift from the Collection of Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.


Reni, a prolific draftsman, distributed his drawings rather freely among his pupils and creditors. Nonetheless, nine hundred drawings were in his possession at his death, and around a third of them survive today. This drawing shows Reni’s consummate skill as a draftsman in three chalks (black, red, and white), a technique seldom used by his contemporaries in Bologna. Suggesting forms with very few, lightly traced lines, the artist’s style is suggestive rather than descriptive. Reni seldom portrayed women from life, resulting in such works having slightly more uniform and idealized features than their male counterparts. A female figure in the typical Reni style, this head reappears countless times in paintings produced by Reni’s busy workshop throughout the 1620s.

  252 — Spoken Label
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