Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, Vinci 1452–1519 Amboise)
Pen and brown ink, over soft black chalk
4 5/8 x 2 1/16in. (11.7 x 5.2cm)
Rogers Fund, 1909
Not on view
In his studies from the late 1480s onward, Leonardo would increasingly link his exploration of human physiognomy to that of the "ages of man." While he often portrayed youth as possessing perfectly proportioned features, he would depict old age as marred by caricaturesque deformity. In this fragmentary study from about 1490-94, Leonardo began to draw the grotesque aquiline profile of an old man in charcoal or soft black chalk, as is seen in the underdrawing, but then transformed it by carefully reworking the drawing in pen and ink to portray a younger man. The most dramatic change occurs in the nose, which in the pen-and-ink drawing appears shorter and straighter. The noble mature profile in the finished form evokes the portraits of Roman emperors seen in antique medals, cameos, and coins, but it bears an uncanny resemblance to the profile of Bartolommeo Colleoni (which may not be an actual portrait of the condottiere) in Andrea del Verrocchio's monumental bronze equestrian monument (Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice). Leonardo's master had secured the commission in 1481-83 from the Venetian Republic but had finished only the models at his death in June 1488. The casting of the Colleoni monument in bronze was entrusted to Alessandro Leopardi in 1490 and was finished in the spring of 1496 (all of which falls more or less within the dates of Leonardo's Metropolitan Museum drawing). The manner of pen-and-ink drawing, with dense, fine, perfectly straight parallel hatching that goes over form into background in unified strokes and achieves great depth of tone, is typical of Leonardo's style from about 1490-95. As is evident here, it may have come to fruition as the result of his involvement with the art of engraving, directly or indirectly through his collaboration with the Milanese printmakers who were beginning to engrave after his designs in the 1490s. The Metropolitan Museum drawing may have been cut from a larger page of Leonardo's notebooks. Irregularly cropped fragments of a similar kind from the Codex Atlanticus exist at the Royal Library in Windsor.
Some scholars have dated the Metropolitan Museum sheet much earlier than is here proposed and have considered it a conscious recollection of the idealized Darius by Verrocchio. Verrocchio's relief, sent by Lorenzo de' Medici "Il Magnifico" to Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, is lost, but the profile is recorded in a terracotta relief by the Della Robbia workshop (Bodemuseum, Berlin). There also is a generic resemblance of physical types between the Metropolitan Museum drawing and the early, highly finished metalpoint study of a warrior (British Museum, London, 1895,0915.474), which seems to have been directly inspired by Verrocchio's original relief. A. E. Popham dated the British Museum warrior to about 1480, though more recent scholars concur that Leonardo executed it in 1472-76. However, Leonardo returned to certain figural and compositional types throughout his career, and thus the physiognomic resemblance in the two drawings is not at all a factor in considering their dates. Underscoring this point, the grotesque conception of the old man's profile in the underdrawing of the Metropolitan sheet resembles the boldly drawn charcoal study of a deformed old man's head in profile (Windsor, RL 12500), a work that is universally recognized to be from Leonardo's late years.
An early, direct copy of the Metropolitan Museum drawing is found among the "Spencer Grotesques" bound in a two-volume edition from 1669 of Rabelais's works (Spencer Collection II.36, New York Public Library. For the series, see: Leonardo da Vinci Master Draftsman 2003). The "Spencer Grotesques" are possibly by a Lombard artist working about 1590-1600; the watermarks suggest that the paper was manufactured in Italy in the late sixteenth century. The copy among the "Spencer Grotesques" already reflects the cropped state of Leonardo's original, as the rendering ends fairly abruptly on the right border. The Spencer copyist also emphasized the man's droopy nose, because he was undoubtedly swayed by the design of the deformed nose in the underdrawing of the original.
Carmen C. Bambach (entry from 'Leonardo da Vinci Master Draftsman,' New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003)
Sir Peter Lely (Pieter van der Faes) (British, Soest 1618–1680 London)(Lugt 2092); Mrs. Haskind (British, early 20th century); Vendor: Mrs. Haskind (British, early 20th century), through Roger Eliot Fry
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art," 1964.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings from New York Collections I: The Italian Renaissance," November 8, 1965–January 9, 1966.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Leonardo da Vinci and His Followers in the Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," March 5, 1981–June 7, 1981.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," July 21, 1997–October 5, 1997.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," September 11, 2000–December 4, 2000.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Leonardo da Vinci: Master Draftsman," January 22, 2003–March 30, 2003.
Musée du Louvre, Paris. "Leonard de Vinci. Dessins et manuscrits," May 5, 2003–July 14, 2003.
High Museum of Art, Atlanta. "Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture," October 3, 2009–February 21, 2010.
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. "Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture," March 23, 2010–June 20, 2010.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine," September 13, 2011–March 4, 2012.
"Vasari Society for the Reproduction of Drawings by Old Masters: part 7" first series (1905-15). The Vasari Society for the Reproduction of Drawings by Old Masters, London, 1911, cat. no. vol. VII, no. 2, ill.
Francesco Malaguzzi Valeri La corte di Ludovico il Moro. 4 vols., Milan, 1913-1923, vol. II, p. 510.
Woldemar von Seidlitz Leonardo da Vinci: Der Wendepunkt der Renaissance. Revised edition. Vienna, 1935, cat. no. 122, fig. no. pl. 88, ill.
Bernard Berenson The Drawings of the Florentine Painters. 3 vols., amplified edition. Chicago, 1938, cat. no. II-no. 1049 D, vol. II, p. 117, ill.
Walter Mehring European Drawings from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Portfolio of Collotype Reproductions [Vol. 1: Italian Drawings; Vol. 2: Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings; Vol. 3: "New Series": Italian, Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 3 vols., New York, 1942–44, cat. no. 10 (vol.1), fig. no. 10, ill.
Arthur Ewart Popham Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. London, 1949, fig. no. 140, pp. 64, 145, ill.
A. H. Scott-Elliot "Caricature Heads after Leonardo da Vinci in the Spencer Collection." in Bulletin of the New York Public Library. vol. 62, no. 6, June 1958, fig. no. pl. 3B, pp. 282, 287, 29.
Bernard Berenson, Luisa Vertova I disegni dei pittori fiorentini. 3 vols., Revised and enlarged. Milan, 1961, cat. no. 1049 D (vol. II), p. 205 (vol. II), ill.
Charles De Tolnay "Quelques dessins inédits de Léonard de Vinci." Raccolta Vinciana. vol. 19, Milan, 1962.
Jacob Bean 100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York Graphic Society, New York, 1964, cat. no. 4, ill.
"Drawings from the Roger Fry Purchase." Apollo. Apollo Magazine, vol. 82, London, September 1965, fig. no. 3, p. 247, ill.
Jacob Bean, Felice Stampfle Drawings from New York Collections, Vol. I: The Italian Renaissance. Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1965, p. 27, no. 16, ill.
B. Bacall A Catalogue of the Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and his School in the United States of America M.A. thesis, directed by Carlo Pedretti. Master's thesis, 1968 cat. no. 4.
Sir Kenneth Clark, Carlo Pedretti The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle. 3 vols., 2nd revised (1st edition 1935). London, 1968-1969.
Carlo Pedretti Leonardo da Vinci: Studies for a Nativity and the 'Mona Lisa Cartoon' with Drawings after Leonardo from the Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana Exh. cat., in Honor of Elmer Belt, M. D. on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, University of California, Los Angeles. Los Angeles, University of California, 1973, fig. no. 2, p. 16.
Leonardo da Vinci and His Followers in the Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Exh. (no catalogue): March 5 - June 7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1981.
Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turčić 15th and 16th Century Italian Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1982, cat. no. 109, p. 118, ill.
The Drawings and Miscellaneous Papers of Leonardo da Vinci in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle. Vol. 1: Landscapes, Plants and Water Studies. Edited by Carlo Pedretti, London and New York, 1982, pp. 25-26.
Flavio Caroli Leonardo: Studi di fisiognomica. 1991, p. 213.
Carlo Pedretti, Patricia Trutty-Coohill The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and His Circle in America. Florence, 1993, cat. no. 10, pp. 44-45.
Michael W. Kwakkelstein Leonardo da Vinci as a Physiognomist: Theory and Drawing Practice.. Leiden, 1994, fig. no. 19, pp. 103-103.
Arthur Ewart Popham, Martin Kemp The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. Revised (1st edition 1945). London, 1994, cat. no. 140C.
Otto Letze, Thomas Buchsteiner Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist Exh. cat., Boston, Museum of Science, Tübingen, Institut für Kulturaustausch. Tübingen, 1997, p. 78.
Patricia Trutty-Coohill "Making the Dead Laugh." in Achademia Leonardo Vinci: Journal of Leonardo Studies and Bibliography of Vinciana. vol. 10, 1997, fig. no. 5, p. 194.
Patricia Trutty-Coohill "Comic Rhythms in Leonardo da Vinci" in Enjoyment: From Laughter to Delight in Philosophy, Literature, the Fine Arts, and Aesthetics, edited by Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, pp. 185-202. Analecta Husserliana, 56.. Dordrecht and Boston, 1998, p. 193.
Carmen Bambach Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York, October 2002.
Carmen C. Bambach Leonardo da Vinci: Master Draftsman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (January 22 - March 30, 2003). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press , New Haven and London, 2003, (entry by Carmen C. Bambach), cat. no. 60, fig. no. 31, pp. 39-42, 418-4, ill.
Françoise Viatte, Varena Forcione Leonard de Vinci. Dessins et manuscrits. Exh. cat.: Paris, Musée du Louvre, May 5 - July 14. Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2003, (entry by Carmen C. Bambach), cat. no. 55, fig. no. 55, p. 175, pp. 175-177, ill.
Mina Gregori, Andrea Bayer Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy. Exh. cat. Yale University Press, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and New Haven, 2004, (entry by Linda Wolk-Simon), cat. no. 17, p. 92.
Gary M. Radke, Philippe Sénéchal Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture. Exh. cat. High Museum of Art, 2009, cat. no. 40, 174, ill.
Nadine Orenstein, Constance C. McPhee Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine Exh. cat.: September 13, 2011 - March 4, 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven and London, 2011, Entry by Nadine Orenstein, cat. no. 1, p. 22, ill.
Artist: Follower of Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, Vinci 1452–1519 Amboise) (Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio?)Date: 1490–1500Medium: Metalpoint, highlighted with white gouache, on pale blue-gray prepared paperAccession: 19.76.3On view in:Not on view
Artist: Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, Vinci 1452–1519 Amboise)Date: 1480–85Medium: Silverpoint, partly reworked by the artist with pen and dark brown ink on pink prepared paper; lines ruled with metalpoint (recto); pen and brown ink (verso)
Accession: 17.142.1On view in:Not on view
Artist: Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, Vinci 1452–1519 Amboise)Date: 1510–1513Medium: Black chalk, charcoal, and red chalk, with some traces of white chalk (?); some remains of framing outline in pen and brown ink at upper right (not by Leonardo)Accession: 51.90On view in:Not on view