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Unlike Gian Lorenzo Bernini's usual polished portraits, this study of an unidentified man is a free, spontaneous characterization. Bernini drew the young man with great liveliness, ease, and even looseness, especially in the shirt collar. By depicting the man gazing directly out with boldness and animation, Bernini created an active exchange between sitter and viewer, just as he did in his sculpture.

Bernini rarely used red chalk without black. Here he added small amounts of white chalk, giving luminosity and greater substance to the image as if the nose, lips, chin, and collar were reflecting a natural light source.

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