Testa di Cristo con una mano che gli afferra i capelli

Head of Christ and a Hand Grasping His Hair

Leonardo da Vinci

Author
Leonardo da Vinci
(Vinci 1452 - Amboise 1519)
Title
Head of Christ and a Hand Grasping His Hair
Catalogue
231
Technique and material
Metalpoint, blue–grey prepared paper

DISPLAY AND CONSERVATION

To avoid deterioration, the drawing must be conserved in a light- and temperature-controlled environment. For this reason, drawings and prints are not always on permanent display.

HEAD OF CHRIST AND A HAND GRASPING HIS HAIR

This intense and dramatic drawing held by the Gallerie dell’Accademia is a three-quarter drawing of the face of Christ looking over his shoulder as a hand on the left is grasping him by the hair. The crown of thorns leaves no doubt regarding the identity of the subject, which shows Christ at the moment in which, after having been whipped and scorned, he is made to carry the cross and climb Mount Calvary.

Less certain, however, is when the drawing was undertaken, even though it is now largely agreed that it was executed after 1490–1495, which is when Leonardo, working on the planning of the Last Supper for Santa Maria delle Grazie, began a reflection on Christ’s Passion. It is not clear whether the sheet belonging to the Accademia is an isolated drawing or a preparatory study for a lost or perhaps never executed painting. It is nonetheless probable that the composition was brought to Venice by the artsit during his brief sojourn during the early months of 1500, as we can make out its influence in the extraordinary and equally intense panel of Giorgione’s Christ Carrying the Cross at the Scuola di San Rocco.

The luminous reflections we can see, particularly under raking light, would lead us to think that the artist used goldpoint rather than silverpoint.

 

NOTICE

Due to ongoing restoration work, the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings is temporarily closed for consultation until further notice.

Due to ongoing restoration work, the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings is temporarily closed for consultation until further notice.