- Museum number
Head of a boy, slightly to left, looking to right [self-portrait?], study of an ear
Verso: A standing male nude, seen from behind, and studies of arms
Pen and brown ink, black chalk
- Production date
Height: 308 millimetres
Width: 183 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Incorrectly stamped on mount as 1890-9-16-94. When catalogued by Pouncey and Gere, the nude studies were considered to be the recto, but they are now mounted on the verso.
According to the inscription on the recto, the head on this sheet is a self-portrait. The inscription is in a later hand and may be erroneous, yet the age of the sitter, the directness of his gaze and the resemblance to other autograph self-portraits could indicate that this head is indeed Raphael himself. The same inscription appears on another chalk drawing of a 'Head of a Youth' in the Ashmolean (K.T. Parker, 'Catalogue of Drawings in the Ashmolean Museum, vol. II, Italian Schools', Oxford, 1956, no. 515; Joannides, no. 9), although the youth in that sheet appears slightly younger. (An inscription by the same hand is found on a recently published drawing in a private collection in Italy that Paul Joannides believes is by the young Raphael c. 1497-8, see Villa Borghese catalogue p. 113). If, as Pouncey and Gere speculated, the artist was sixteen or seventeen at the time that this sheet was drawn, then it would have been made around 1500 after Raphael left Perugino's workshop but before he went to Florence. Meyer zur Capellen (2001) notes the resemblance between both the Ashmolean drawing and this sheet to a 'Portrait of a Young Man' in Budapest (Museum of Fine Arts, inv.no.72, see Meyer zur Capellen, 2001, no. 41, p. 283), but sees the Ashmolean sheet and the portrait as slightly later than this sheet, circa 1502-3.
In 1500 Raphael was working in Umbria, principally in Città di Castello. The quality of the nude on the verso demonstrates Raphael's brilliance, even at this relatively early stage. The pose and exaggerated muscles of the nude are reminiscent of figures by Luca Signorelli. Another drawing by Raphael of this period includes a copy of one of the archers in Signorelli's Città di Castello 'Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian' (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Parker 501 recto; Joannides, no. 11). It is therefore possible that this nude could also have been inspired by a Signorellian prototype. Above the nude, Raphael drew three studies of arms. Ames-Lewis suggests that these studies are similar to Antonio del Pollaiuolo's studies of a nude seen from various angles (Louvre inv. 1486; see L.D. Ettlinger, 'Antonio and Piero Pollaiuolo', London, 1978, no. 37, pp. 161-2, plate 70), but in fact if one looks at the position of the thumb, it is evident that even though these arms are examined from different viewpoints, the two sketches on the left represent a left arm while the one on the right represents a right arm.
Lit.: P. Pouncey and J.A. Gere, 'Italian Drawings in the BM: Raphael and his Circle', London, 1962, no. 1 (with previous literature); J-P. Cuzin, 'Raphaël: Vie et l'oeuvre', Fribourg, 1983. no. 41, p. 45; J.A. Gere and N. Turner in exh. cat. BM, 'Drawings by Raphael', 1983, no. 1; P. Joannides, 'The Drawings of Raphael', Oxford, 1983, no. 7; E. Knab, E. Mitsch, K. Oberhuber, 'Raphael Die Zeichnungen', Stuttgart, 1983, no. 1 (r), no. 2 (v); F. Ames-Lewis, 'The Draftsman Raphael', New Haven and London, 1986, fig. 17 (v); J. Meyer zur Capellen, 'Raphael. The Paintings. Vol. I, The Beginning in Umbria and Florence, ca. 1500-1508', Landshut, 2001, pp. 18-19, fig. 1 (incorrectly labelled 1895-9-15-618), pp. 52-54, fig. 24 (verso); P. Joannides, in exhib. cat. (A. Coliva ed.), Rome, Villa Borghese, 'Raffaeelo da Firenze a Roma', 2006, under no. 2, p. 113
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1962/3 Nov-Sep, BM, Raphael and his Circle (P+G)
1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.128
1983, BM, Drawings by Raphael, no.1
2007 Mar-June, Beijing, Palace Museum, Britain meets the World
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number