10. Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino

Cento 1591 – 1666 Bologna

Two Studies for the Head of the Virgin Mary, circa 1654

This double study is related to the Purification of the Virgin, a painting made by Guercino in 1654-55 for the Church of the Theatines in Ferrara. The artist first executed the more finished profile on the right, then repeated it using mostly lines in a second sketch on the left. He very subtly modified the tilt of the head and the direction of the gaze. The solution he finally chose for the painting lies some­where between the two sketched ideas: the head is perceptibly raised but the half-closed eyes give the Virgin a withdrawn serenity which is characteristic of Guercino’s art at the end of his career.