Head of a Woman (Lucrezia Paolini)

Chalk and pastel drawing of a woman with curly hair.

Salvator Rosa (Naples 1615–1673 Rome)
Head of a Woman (Lucrezia Paolini), 1640s
Black, red, and white chalk with blue, yellow, pink, and white pastel on beige laid paper
12 15/16 × 9 7/16 in. (328 × 239 mm)
Promised Gift from the Collection of Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.


Salvator Rosa led a turbulent life between Naples, Florence, and Rome, where he was closely acquainted with literary and theater figures. Rosa produced a corpus of drawings that are eclectic in style and eccentric in subject matter. This drawing is one of just a dozen head studies in pastel and the only one in the group to portray a woman. As the sitter—who may be Lucrezia Paolini (ca. 1620–1697), the artist’s partner for most of his life—is not wearing everyday clothes, the drawing may have been produced in the context of the Florentine Accademia dei Percossi (Academy of the Stricken), something of a combination of an artist’s studio and a salon of poets, playwrights, and painters, for whose members Rosa produced similar heads in pastel before his move to Rome in 1649.

  254 — (1) Spoken Label and (2) Curator's Personal Reflection
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