Head Study of a Man Looking Left

black chalk sketch of man looking left with mustache and pointed beard

Attributed to Jan Cossiers (1600–1671)
Head Study of a Man Looking Left, ca. 1630–50 (?)
Black chalk, heightened with white chalk, on buff paper
9 1/2 × 7 1/2 in. (24 × 19.1 cm)
Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The cautious attribution of this study of a middle-aged man to Jan Cossiers, a Flemish painter who left a beautiful series of drawn portraits of his sons, is based on the drawing’s style and an inscription on its verso. An earlier attribution to Van Dyck must have been inspired by the drawing’s exceptional quality and the sitter’s melancholy gaze. Although Van Dyck often employed the same technique of black and white chalk on lightly toned paper, the detail and worked-out modeling here set it apart from his known head studies.

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