Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599–1641)
Oil on paper, laid down on wood
22 1/4 x 16 3/8 in. (56.5 x 41.6 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Ralph J. Hines, 1957 (57.37)
Van Dyck depicted a very similar young woman in two other oil sketches on paper, one in a private collection, the other in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Like Rubens (for example, Study of Two Heads, 67.187.99), van Dyck painted study heads for reuse in various contexts; the present figure could well serve for an image of the Virgin or Mary Magdalene. The picture's style suggests a date of about 161820, when van Dyck collaborated with Rubens. The paper support appears to be from an account book written in Italian with traces of Flemish (possibly proper names). Perhaps the paper was used previously by Rubens, who often wrote in Italian, but it is far from certain that the barely discernable writing is in his hand.