European Painting before 1900, Johnson Collection
Head of a BoyMade in Italy, Europe
Luca Signorelli, Italian (active central Italy), first documented 1470, died 1523
Oil on panel
Cat. 138John G. Johnson Collection, 1917
This is a rare surviving example of an informal working study by a Renaissance master. Executed on a hastily prepared scrap of irregularly shaped wood, it was quickly painted and in some parts, like the hair on the right, left unfinished. Paint marks on the back indicate that it was picked up before the paint dried. Because this study was made for the artist's own use, it was not framed; instead, it was simply hung, as here, by a cord passed through holes near the top edge.
The artist probably asked a studio apprentice to pose for this penetrating study of a figure deep in thought. The sketch may have been used as a model for a figure in a larger painting.
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