Portrait Study of Charles I

black chalk portrait sketch of man with large brimmed hat, long hair, mustached and pointed beard

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Portrait Study of Charles I, ca. 1632–36
Black chalk
18 7/8 × 14 3/8 in. (47.9 × 36.5 cm)
Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt

The absence of large, detailed drawn head studies of the men and women portrayed by Van Dyck can best be explained by a preference to work directly in oils when he had the sitter in front of him. This impressive sheet is a notable exception. The searching chalk lines recording the king’s haunting features, including his heavily pouched eyelids and curling moustache, indicate that the study was made from life. The drawing may have served as the model for the central head of Charles I in a famous painting.

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