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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

The bust of a masquerader in profile c.1517-18

Black chalk rubbed with red chalk | 17.0 x 14.6 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 912508

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A drawing of a woman, seen half length, in profile to the right. She wears a tight-fitting bodice, and an elaborate pseudo-classical headdress. The figure has a high-waisted dress and pronounced bust and must be female, though the convergence of male and female to a single ideal type is a marked aspect of Leonardo's late work. The hair is wound around the head and knotted, with a tail emerging from the knot, and dressed at the front into a shell-like crest. In concept this is closer to the ideal heads of Michelangelo and the mannerists of the Florentine and Fontainebleau schools than to Leonardo's earlier drawings such as the Leda studies. Text adapted from 'Leonardo da Vinci: the Divine and the Grotesque'