Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Studies of ten (?) heads and two ears (recto); Studies of three figures and a head (verso)

Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges)
ca. 1498
Metalpoint on prepared paper; verso: black chalk
Sheet: 5 1/4 x 3 3/4 in. (13.3 x 9.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2008
Accession Number:
2008.368a, b
Not on view
No more than ten drawings are known by Gerard David, the last great early Netherlandish painter, by whom there are more paintings in the Museum than in any other collection in the world. Most of David's drawings are executed in metalpoint on prepared paper. Some, like this one, are inscribed with numbers in a fifteenth- or sixteenth-century hand that probably record their original order in the sketchbook to which they must have belonged, and they show the same damage, probably caused by humidity, in the lower half of the sheet. Unlike earlier Northern artists, David used the stylus in a loose manner, and the liveliness and freshness of observation strongly suggest that this drawing was made directly from life. None of the heads appear in any of David's known paintings, but certainly it was sketches of this kind that allowed him to imbue the figures in his painted works with striking realism and profound humanity. The figure at the right in the recently discovered sketches in black chalk on the back of the sheet is preparatory to one of David's major paintings, The Flaying of the Corrupt Judge of 1498 in the Groeningemuseum, Bruges.
Inscription: At upper centre, numbered "xij" in pen and brown ink (fifteenth- or sixteenth-century handwriting from the Netherlands)

Marking: Traces of a watermark
Philipp Dräxler von Carin (Austrian); Josef Carl von Klinkosch (Austrian); his sale, C. J. Wawra (Austrian), April 15, 1889 and following days, lot 469; Moritz von Kuffner (Austrian); Artemis Fine Arts, New York (American), sold in the 1990s; Vendor: Salamander Fine Arts
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paper Chase: Two Decades of Collecting Drawings and Prints," December 9, 2014–March 16, 2015.

Alfred Woltmann Holbein und seine Zeit. vol. 2, Leipzig, 1866–1868, p. 472.

Gustav Friedrich Waagen Die vornehmsten Kunstdenmäler in Wien. vol. 2, 1867, p. 196.

C. J. Wawra Katalog der reichhaltigen und vorzüglichen Sammlung von Alten Handzeichnungen, Miniaturen, alten Kupferstichen, Radirungen, Holzschnitten, Büchern, Bildwerken etc aus dem Nachlasse des Herrn Josef C. Ritter von Klinkosch [Sale cat., April 15, 1889]. 1889, cat. no. 469.

"Drawings by Gerard David" in Burlington Magazine. 1908, p. 155.

Hans Tietze, Heinrich Sitte Österreichische Kunsttopographie: Die Denkmale der Stadt Wien. XI-XXi Bezirk. vol. 2, Vienna, 1908, fig. no. 241, p. 224, ill.

Paul Leprieur "De quelques dessins nouveaux au musée du Louvre." in La revue de l'art ancien et moderne. vol. 28, July-December, 1910, pp. 170-171.

Joseph Meder Die Handzeichnung, Ihre Technik und Entwicklung. Vienna, 1919, p. 198.

Friedrich Winkler "Das Skizzenbuch Gerard Davids" Pantheon. III, 1929, fig. no. 2, pp. 271-275, ill.

Frits Lugt Inventaire général des dessins des écoles du Nord. Maîtres des anciens Pays-Bas nés avant 1550. Paris, 1968, p. 20.

James Mundy Gerard David Studies. PhD diss., 1980 fig. no. 57, p. 58, ill.

John Oliver Hand, J. Richard Judson, Andrew Robison, Martha Wolff The Age of Bruegel. Netherlandish Drawings in the Sixteenth Century. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, Nov. 7, 1986-Jan. 18, 1987 and at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, Jan. 30-Apr. 5, 1987. Washington, 1987, p. 131, note 5.

Hans J. van Miegroet Gerard David. Antwerp, 1989, cat. no. 75D, p. 134, ill.

Maryan W. Ainsworth "The 'Mocking of Christ', a Hitherto Unknown Painting by Gerard David." Städel-Jahrbuch. n.s. vol. 15, 1997, fig. no. 7, p. 152, ill.

Maryan W. Ainsworth Gerard David. Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition. Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1998, pp. 7-10, fig. 2, ill.

Stijn Alsteens, Carmen C. Bambach, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2008-2010." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 68, no. 2, Fall 2010, p. 18 (entry written by Stijn Alsteens), ill.

Related Objects

The Adoration of the Magi

Artist: Workshop of Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges) Date: ca. 1520 Medium: Oil on wood Accession: 1982.60.17 On view in:Gallery 537

Holy Face

Artist: Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges) Date: ca. 1485–90 Medium: Tempera and gold leaf on parchment that has been trimmed and laid down on thin walnut Accession: 1975.1.2486 On view in:Not on view

The Annunciation

Artist: Circle of Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges) Date: ca. 1510 Medium: Tempera on parchment Accession: 1975.1.2473 On view in:Not on view

Christ Blessing

Artist: Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges) Date: ca. 1500–1505 Medium: Oil on wood Accession: 2009.415 On view in:Gallery 19

Virgin and Child

Artist: Workshop of Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges) Date: 1460–1523 Medium: Oil on oak panel Accession: 1975.1.118 On view in:Gallery 953