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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

The bust of a child in profile c.1500

Red chalk | 10.0 x 10.0 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 912519

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This delicate profile of the head and shoulders of a child terminates at a clear horizontal line; on another drawing (RCIN 912567) Leonardo studies the chest and back of a child, terminating at the same line. These are probably therefore studies for a terracotta bust, most likely intended to represent the Christ Child or Infant Baptist – common in children’s nurseries during the Renaissance. A terracotta bust of the Christ Child was described by one of Leonardo’s early biographers, but no such bust by Leonardo survives. Melzi's 3.

Text adapted from Leonardo da Vinci: A life in drawing, London, 2018