Height: 325.000 mm
Width: 272.000 mm
PD 1895-9-15-785 (recto)
Prints and Drawings
Andrea Verrocchio, Head of a Woman, a drawing
Italy, around AD 1475
Florentine painter, sculptor and goldsmith
This is one of several drawings, including one
on the reverse of this sheet, for the head of a nymph or
The drawing is a perfect example of the versatility of chalk as a medium for skilful artists in the late fifteenth century. Black chalk has been used softly to suggest the gentle shadows on her cheeks, while white chalk heightens the fall of light. Verrocchio was a sculptor as well as a painter, and his feeling for three-dimensional form is apparent here in the careful shading that creates a sense of volume. Her hair is thin and wispy and is drawn in rapid, thin strokes. When not in elaborate braided patterns and knots, it falls in curls over her shoulders.
Giorgio Vasari, in his Life of Verrocchio, describes similar drawings of women's heads which he kept in his own collection. He added that Leonardo da Vinci, Verrocchio's most famous pupil, frequently imitated such drawings.
A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, Italian drawings in the Depa-5 (London, The British Museum Press, 1950)
J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)
M. Royalton-Kisch, H. Chapman and S. Coppel, Old Master drawings from the M, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)
P.L. Rubin and A. Wright, Renaissance Florence (National Gallery, London, 1999)
A. Butterfield, The sculptures of Andrea Verro (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1997)