Peter Paul Rubens
Siegen, Westphalia, Germany, 1577-Antwerp, 1640
Head of a Young Man, 1601
Oil on paper, mounted on panel.
Whether on paper or panel, the oil sketch became Rubenís preferred method for preparing both entire compositions and individual subjects. Practically an homage to Caravaggio in both style and conception, this study captures the emphatic physicality, momentary reaction, and intense psychology of a live model. Rubens drew this figure as a study for a page in the Mocking of Christ in Rome, part of his first major commission. Probably based on this very study, the same head of a youth reappears in at least four subsequent works by the artist.