When purchased by the important collector Louisine Havemeyer (1855–1929), this portrait was praised by Edgar Degas (1834–1917) and Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) as a work by Diego Velázquez (1599–1660). Its broad, frank brushwork resonates with this artist’s early paintings. By the 1930s, however, this attribution was doubted and today the painting is generally thought to be by someone in Velázquez’s circle or the workshop of the battle painter José Leonardo (1601–1652). Regardless, at some point in its history it appears to have been cut from a larger canvas in order to try to create an independent portrait.
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Title:Head of a Man
Artist:Spanish (Castilian) Painter (mid-17th century or later)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:14 x 10 3/4 in. (35.6 x 27.3 cm)
Credit Line:H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Inscription: Inscribed (lower right): 758
Spanish nobleman (possibly Benito Garriga or Garriga family, Madrid); [Berringham, Paris, 1895–97; sold through Raimundo de Madrazo to Havemeyer, as by Velázquez]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (by 1902–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 73 (as by José [or Jusepe] Leonardo, formerly attributed to Velázquez) [2nd ed., 1958, no. 187, as by an unknown Castilian Painter].
Winter Park, Fla. Morse Gallery of Art. "Spanish Art of Six Centuries," January 12–31, 1946, not in catalogue.
Westport, Conn. Westport Community Art Association. "Spanish Painting," November 5–18, 1955, no catalogue.
Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "Spanish Painting, XVII–XX Centuries," January 4–27, 1963, no catalogue?
Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Miners National Bank. "Loan Exhibition from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 1–15, 1964, no. 11.
Edgar Degas. Letter to Paul Durand-Ruel. 1901 [published in Venturi 1939, vol. 2, pp. 104–5, letter no. 17, dated as 1895–97; published in French and English in Reff 2020, vol. 2, p. 327, letter no. 907, dated as 1901], mentions this portrait as a head he believes to be by Velázquez, bought by a "Monsieur de Bermingham" from a private collection in Madrid; comments that Rouart found the picture magnificent.
"The H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Parnassus 2 (March 1930), p. 5.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 54, ill., as by José Leonardo.
Bryson Burroughs. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Catalogue of Paintings. 9th ed. New York, 1931, pp. 210–11, as by José Leonardo.
August L. Mayer. Velazquez: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Pictures and Drawings. London, 1936, p. 90, no. 384, pl. 73, as evidently a fragment of a Velázquez studio replica painted about 1623–25; suggests it may represent Count Peñaranda, Chamberlain of Infante Don Fernando.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 242, ill., calls it a fragment of a larger picture by an unknown Castilian painter and dates it to the 17th century; states that if it is not by José Leonardo "it is clearly by some other competent Madrid painter of his time".
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 92.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 97, no. 138, lists it among anonymous pictures from the 17th century, noting that it was first ascribed to Velázquez, and then, more credibly, to José Leonardo.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, pp. 159–60, refers to it as a portrait by Velázquez that "was the admiration of Degas and of Miss Cassatt and also had the seal of authenticity of Raimundo de Madrazo who bought it for us through a dealer called Berringham".
José López-Rey. Velázquez: A Catalogue Raisonné of His Oeuvre. London, 1963, pp. 315–16, no. 567, pl. 403, observes a "masterful building of the face in space" which suggests an attribution to Velázquez, yet notes the picture has suffered too much from abrasion to determine the validity of this attribution.
María Angeles Mazón de la Torre. Jusepe Leonardo y su tiempo. Saragossa, 1977, pp. 194–95, 359, no. 32, pl. 9, attributes this portrait to Jusepe Leonardo, but later in text appears to reject this attribution; dates it 1635–40, based on similarities with the Saint Sebastian (Prado, Madrid) and two versions of Saint John the Baptist (Los Angeles County Museum of Art and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa), also attributed to Leonardo; sees similarities with the MMA portrait of a man attributed to Velázquez's workshop (89.15.29) and a deaccessioned portrait of Olivares (89.15.30).
Eric Young. Letter to Mary Sprinson. December 27, 1982, tentatively agrees with Mazón de la Torre's [Ref. 1977] attribution to Jusepe Leonardo, noting that there are no truly comparable works among the artist's known oeuvre.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 159–60, 325 n. 218.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 286.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 378, no. A481, ill., mentions a January 26, 1903 letter from Mary Cassatt to Mrs. Havemeyer which refers to a Velázquez head already in their collection.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 162, ill.
Theodore Reff, ed. The Letters of Edgar Degas.. By Edgar Degas. New York, 2020, vol. 1, p. 95; vol. 2, p. 327; vol. 3, p. 252, letter no. 907, suggests that the "Mr de Bermingham" Degas refers to in his letter to Paul Durand-Ruel of 1901 as the owner who had just purchased the picture in Madrid from a private collection was Henri de Bermingham (1878–1924), a collector and amateur actor.
This portrait was probably cut from a larger canvas.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.