Celebrated for his pioneering engravings, Martin Schongauer was also a gifted panel painter and draftsman. This rare study is one of the few drawings that can be attributed to him. Combining fluid, richly varied strokes with delicate facial hatching, it probably represents a character head rather than a portrait. In style, the drawing is close to Schongauer’s late engravings.
Marking: At lower right, unidentified collector's mark (letters in a circle stamped in black ink). Verso, at lower left, inscribed M + S in pen and brown ink
Franz von Sternberg-Manderscheid, Prague; Sternberg-Manderscheid sale, J.G.A. Frenzel, Dresden, 10 November 1845, vol. 5, lot 330 (as Hans Holbein the Elder); Friedrich August II of Saxony (Lugt 971 at lower right on recto), Dresden; his heirs until 1945; private collection, Switzerland; [E. Verchere, Geneva; A. and R. Ball, New York]. Acquired by Robert Lehman through Verchere and Ball in December 1952.
Stijn Alsteens, Freyda Spira, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings Before 1700 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., New York and New Haven, 2012, pp. 9-11, no. 5.