Portrait Study of a Young Man in Classical Garb

black chalk sketch of half nude male with cloak about him and shoulder length hair

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Portrait Study of a Young Man in Classical Garb, ca. 1632–41
Black chalk on buff paper
15 7/8 × 10 1/8 in. (40.2 × 25.7 cm)
Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge;
Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund

Although most of Van Dyck’s portraits show his sitters in contemporary dress, a few present them in the religious or mythological guise of a history painting. This drawing appears to be made in preparation for such a portrait, possibly depicting its subject as St. John the Baptist or a Greek shepherd, although no related painting is known today. A strong resemblance suggests the young man could be the same as the one in the more conventional portrait drawing here. Indeed, a pastoral theme would have particularly appealed to a young aristocrat at the court of Charles I, where noblemen and women often played the roles of shepherds and shepherdesses at masques.

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