Study Head of an Old Man with a White Beard

Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, Antwerp 1599–1641 London)
ca. 1617–20
Oil on wood
26 x 20 1/4 in. (66 x 51.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Egleston Fund, 1922
Accession Number:
Not on view
Rubens’s practice of using real people as models for figures in his religious and mythological scenes was followed closely in Antwerp by his younger colleagues Jacob Jordaens and Anthony van Dyck. The present picture was once attributed to Rubens, but its comparatively soft forms and textured surfaces are typical of the young Van Dyck and contrast with Rubens’s emphatic modeling and incisive draftsmanship.
[Nikolaus Steinmeyer, Cologne, until about 1900; sold to Martius]; Götz Martius, Kiel (about 1900–about 1920); ?[Van Diemen & Co., Berlin, 1922]; [Paul Bottenwieser, Berlin, 1922; sold to MMA]
Art Institute of Chicago. "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1934, no. 108.

Detroit Institute of Arts. "An Exhibition of Sixty Paintings and Some Drawings by Peter Paul Rubens," February 13–March 15, 1936, no. 10.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Frans Hals in the Metropolitan Museum," July 26–October 10, 2011, no catalogue.

Paul Bottenwieser. Paintings by Old Masters Placed in Museums of Art and Private Collections. [Berlin?], n.d., unpaginated, ill.

B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "A Portrait by Rubens." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 18 (May 1923), pp. 116–17, ill., suggests a date of 1610–20.

Wilhelm R. Valentiner. An Exhibition of Sixty Paintings and Some Drawings by Peter Paul Rubens. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1936, unpaginated, no. 10.

Alan Burroughs. Art Criticism from a Laboratory. Boston, 1938, p. 126.

Jacob Burckhardt. Rubens. Vienna, 1938, fig. 32 [English ed., "Rubens, Paintings and Drawings," 1939, by R. A. M. Stevenson].

R. A. M. Stevenson. Rubens, Paintings and Drawings. New York, [1939], fig. 32 [German ed., "Rubens," 1938, by Jacob Burckhardt].

W. R. Valentiner. "Rubens' Paintings in America." Art Quarterly 9 (Spring 1946), p. 156, no. 26, dates it about 1610–12.

Jan-Albert Goris and Julius S. Held. Rubens in America. New York, 1947, pp. 30–31, no. 32, pl. 28, date it about 1610–12.

Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann. "Purpose and Style: Oil Sketches of Rubens, Jan Brueghel, Rembrandt." Stil und Überlieferung in der Kunst des Abendlandes 3 (1967), p. 112.

Hans Vlieghe. Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard. part 8, vol. 1, Saints. London, [1972], pp. 68–69, under no. 52.

Julius S. Held. The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens. Princeton, 1980, vol. 1, p. 645, no. A42; vol. 2, pl. 501, questions the attribution to Rubens.

Margaret Roland. Letter to Walter Liedtke. October 18, 1981, tentatively attributes it to Van Dyck and dates it about 1617–18.

Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 64–67; vol. 2, pl. 28, as by Van Dyck, probably dating from the years in which he served as Rubens's assistant.

Walter A. Liedtke. "Anthony van Dyck." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 42 (Winter 1984/85), pp. 15–16, fig. 11 (color).

Walter A. Liedtke. "Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum—II: Van Dyck, Jordaens, Brouwer, and Others." Tableau 6 (February 15, 1984), pp. 30–31, fig. 7.

Justus Müller Hofstede. "Neue Beiträge Zum Oeuvre Anton van Dycks." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 48/49 (1988), pp. 137–38, fig. 10.

Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke in Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, p. 332, no. 211, ill.

Larry Keith. "The Rubens Studio and the 'Drunken Silenus supported by Satyrs'." National Gallery Technical Bulletin 20 (1999), pp. 103–4 n. 25, fig. 9, pl. 7 (detail).

Walter Liedtke. "Toward a New Edition of Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Munuscula Amicorum: Contributions on Rubens and His Colleagues in Honour of Hans Vlieghe. Ed. Katlijne van der Stighelen. Vol. 2, Turnhout, Belgium, 2006, p. 678 n. 25.

This picture was ascribed to Rubens until 1979; since then it has generally been agreed that Van Dyck painted it as a study. It probably dates from the years in which Van Dyck served as Rubens's assistant. Although this figure is not found in any other known painting by Rubens or by Van Dyck, it represents a type used by both artists in preparation for their pictures.