This drawing of a screaming child is an early realistic study of emotions. Grünewald heightened to the extreme this depiction of unbearable pain or dramatic suffering of the soul. In a violent motion, the child throws his head back. We are looking straight into the darkness of his wide-open mouth. Grünewald accordingly rendered the upper part of his face, with eyes firmly closed and forehead emotionally furrowed, in extreme foreshortening. The execution of the drawing is simple but very delicate. Shading by stumping combined with a little wispy hatching underscores the impression of a slightly swollen epidermis on the neck and cheeks. Connections to the types of physiognomy of the angels of the Isenheim Altarpiece cannot be ruled out.


  • Title: Head of a Crying Child
  • Creator: Matthias Grünewald
  • Date Created: c. 1515–20
  • Physical Dimensions: 24.7 × 20.2 cm
  • Technique and Material: Charcoal, partially stumped flat, fixed, remnants of white heightening with brush
  • Provenance: Universität Jena, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Friedrich Klopfleisch Collection, acquired in 1926
  • Museum: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett
  • Inv.-No.: KdZ 12319
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: http://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/kupferstichkabinett/home.html
  • Copyright: Photo © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett/ Dietmar Katz; Text © Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach, A Cooperation of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München, Catalogue of the Exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nov 20, 2016 – March 26, 2017, Munich: Prestel, 2016; cat. no. 85 / Michael Roth
  • Catalogue: https://prestelpublishing.randomhouse.de/book/Renaissance-and-Reformation/Stephanie-Buck/Prestel-com/e504919.rhd
  • Artist Dates: c. 1475–80 Würzburg (?)–1528 (?) Halle
  • Artist Biography: The familiar name Grünewald for the Franconian painter Mathis Neithart was a product of posthumous historiography that identifies one of the most extraordinary, expressive, and coloristically rich oeuvres in sixteenth-century German painting. The magnum opus of the painter, who was active in Aschaffenburg for a long time and worked for Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, bishop of Mainz and Halle in the 1520s, is without a doubt the altarpiece for the Antonine church in Isenheim (1512–15). Grünewald painted the wings of Dürer’s destroyed Heller Altarpiece for the Dominican church in Frankfurt am Main, another important work of his epoch.

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