Carracci's powerful head study was most likely painted as a visual exercise to be used for teaching purposes or as a preparatory work for a larger composition. Composed of thin layers of paint, with some areas of the ground showing through, the broken brushwork captures movement and the effect of light on form. Caught in the act of thinking, we do not know who this man was, but it likely that Carracci chose him as a model for his strong and characterful face.


  • Title: Head of an Old Man
  • Date: c.1590-92
  • Physical Dimensions: w279 x h394 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: Attributed to Rosa until 1880, when catalogued by Richter as Italian School. Murray suggested an attribution to Guido Reni, but this is rejected by Pepper, who regards DPG286 as a work by Annibale Carracci of c.1590/2 (oral communication, 1997).
  • Work Nationality: Italian
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Attributed to: Carracci, Annibale
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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