Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Portrait Study of Charles I, ca. 1632–36
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.