Head of a Bearded Man

Artist: Anonymous, Bohemian, 14th century

Date: 1360–80

Medium: Pen and gray-brown ink, brush with gray-black and brown wash, traces of white gouache highlights.

Dimensions: Sheet: 4 7/16 x 3 3/8 in. (11.3 x 8.5 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Purchase, Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, 2003

Accession Number: 2003.29


Few Medieval drawings survive. This very refined and unusually well-preserved study was probably created by an artist in the immediate circle of the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV (r. 1355-78) at Prague. The sheet was probably made as an exemplar in a modelbook rather than as a preliminary study for a specific work. The bearded man with an intent gaze and portraitlike presence evokes a biblical patriarch, prophet, or apostle. The meticulous artist delicately outlined the figure with a fine pen and added modelling with the tip of the brush. Although working on a relatively small scale, the artist achieved a stunningly sculptural conception of form.