Study of Eleven Heads, ca. 1604(?)
Jacques de Gheyn the Elder (Dutch, 1565–1629)
Pen and three shades of brown ink with black chalk; 12 1/2 x 9 3/16 in. (31.8 x 23.3 cm)
Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, Rita and Frits Markus Fund, and Charles and Jessie Price Gift, 2006 (2006.101)
This drawing is from a group of studies intended as a repertoire of figures for practice and reference. It is one of the most significant and most intact of several such sheets composed by de Gheyn, who worked primarily as a printmaker and draftsman, and was trained by Hendrick Goltzius. The drawing combines images from life (the young man viewed from several angles, blowing a conch shell) with those invented by the artist (the Medusa head and the two strange, long-haired figures, possibly Gypsies, in the center). The varied style of drawing suggests that de Gheyn created the sheet during at least two distinct periods in his career. As technical analysis reveals that he used three different types of ink, he may even have made the drawings on three separate occasions.