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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Head of a Grotesque Man in Profile Facing Right

After Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, Vinci 1452–1519 Amboise)
after 1500
Pen and brown ink, on off-white paper (now darkened)
(irregular): 3 5/8 × 2 1/8 in. (9.2 × 5.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
This drawing was discovered underneath Leonardo's 'Allegory of the Fidelity of the Lizard' (Metropolitan Museum of Art, acc. no. 17.142.3) at the time of the acquisition of the latter from Thomas Nash in 1917. At that time the 'Allegory' was hinged to a blue mount bearing inscriptions in an early nineteenth-century French hand: "de la main de Leonardo da Vinci and l'écriture est á gauche, et doit se lire dans une glace." These comments obviously refer to the 'Allegory' with its long left-handed annotations. At the bottom of the old mount is penned the name Parmegianino, which seems to indicate the attribution preferred by the French collector J.-G. Legrand for the present drawing. Though the pen work in this head bears little resemblance to that of Parmigianino, the attribution is not entirely misdirected because the Parmese master did draw heads in profile that have in the past been confused with the work of Leonardo (see acc. no. 1972.118.264). By placing the present drawing in such close proximity to an autograph work by Leonardo, Legrand may have wished to suggest that the "Parmegianino" head derives from an original by Leonardo.

Carlo Pedretti, who reproduced this drawing in 1973 as an autograph and hitherto unpublished work by Leonardo, does not seem to have been aware that it was illustrated in the 1935 edition of Seidlitz's work on the master. This grotesque head also occurs in the same direction on a sheet of Leonardesque studies from Vivant Denon's collection that is now in the British Museum (Popham and Pouncey, 1950, no. 122, pl. 110). Pedretti suggested that the London head is copied after the present drawing; this seems unlikely because the copy in London painstakingly imitates the left-handed shading characteristic of Leonardo, while the shading here is ambiguously vertical. The present drawing, dry and awkward in execution, seems a good deal further from Leonardo than is the copy in the British Museum.

(Carmen C. Bambach)
Jacques Guillaume Legrand (French, Paris 1743–1807); Joseph Allen Smith (London and Charleston, South Carolina)- according to an annotation on the old mountThis drawing was discovered underneath Leonardo's Allegorical Design (ass. number 17.142.2).; Thomas Sully (American, Horncastle, Lincolnshire 1783–1872 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); Francis T. S. Darley (1833–1914)(Grandson of Thomas Sully); Thomas Nash (New York, 1861–1926)(by inheritance)
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.

Gibbes Museum of Art. "In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad, 1740-1860 (Charleston)," April 8, 1999–July 3, 1999.

Woldemar von Seidlitz Leonardo da Vinci: Der Wendepunkt der Renaissance. Revised edition. Vienna, 1935, cat. no. 122, fig. no. 122, ill.

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, ill.

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. 111, fig. no. 111, pp. 120-21, ill.

Maurie D. McInnis , et al. In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad 1740-1860 Exh. cat., Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina, April 9 - July 3, 1999. Columbia, South Carolina, University of South Carolina Press, 1999, cat. no. under no. 49, fig. no. 80, p. 184., ill.

Carmen Bambach Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York, October 2002, (text and related entry).

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, fig. no. 34, pp. 39-40, 43, 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, p. 162.

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