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Manchester Art Gallery

The head of a youth©

Two male types recur throughout Leonardo’s career – an adolescent with a straight nose, lightly rounded chin and open expression, and an older man with an aquiline nose, prominent chin and beetling brow, both derived from ancient Roman prototypes. In his later years Leonardo produced a number of independent drawings of such heads, exercises in form and draughtsmanship simply for his own satisfaction.

Here the use of red chalk on red prepared paper limits the tonal contrasts in the face, giving the smoothly rounded surface a layer of juvenile fat, while the black chalk of the hair mingles with the red in a dense pattern of corkscrew curls.

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