Head of the Adoring Virgin

Head and shoulders of a woman in three-quarter view, looking down and to the side, with her hands clasped in front of her as in prayer

Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (Venice 1682–1754 Venice)
Head of the Adoring Virgin, late 1720s (?)
Black and white chalk on blue laid paper
16 × 11 3/4 in. (406 × 298 mm)
Promised Gift from the Collection of Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.


Giovanni Battista Piazzetta’s drawings far outnumber his paintings. He was chiefly known for book illustrations and head drawings—the so-called “character heads”—but this drawing may be one of just about twenty preparatory sheets by him to survive. Although it does not match any surviving painting by the artist, it bears close similarities with the head of the Virgin Mary in Piazzetta’s altarpiece in Santa Maria della Fava in Venice, painted in 1725–27. It is also possible, however, that Piazzetta made the sheet after the fact, recording his own painting in a drawing that, after adding the Virgin’s hands joined in prayer, he would later sell as an independent work or use as preparatory for a small devotional painting.

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