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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

The bust of a man in profile c.1510

RCIN 912556

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A drawing of the head and shoulders of an elderly man, his head turned in profile to the right, and his body three quarters to the right. He has thick curly hair, and a heavy neck and jaw. Leonardo drew many ‘ideal heads’ over the course of his career. With their profile format derived from ancient coins and medals, these imaginary head studies ranged from the beauty of youth to the weathered features of old age. Here, Leonardo exploits the variable hardness of chalk to suggest ageing skin and sagging jowls. The long smooth strokes of chalk in that drawing are here supplanted by small areas of red chalk lightly rubbed into the surface, by stumping, by wetting the tip of the chalk and by accents in black chalk around the features of the face as well as in the hair. Text adapted from 'Leonardo da Vinci: the Divine and the Grotesque'