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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

The head of an old bearded man in profile c.1517-18

Black chalk | 25.3 x 18.2 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 912500

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A drawing of the head of an old man, bald, with a hooked nose and a flowing beard, turned in profile to the left

Leonardo drew heads in profile throughout his career, not as studies for paintings but as independent drawings. This must be one of his final such sheets, made at the very end of his life as his physical powers were waning: an old bearded man himself, he cannot have been oblivious to an element of self-portraiture or even self-caricature in the drawing.