76. Andrea del Sarto

Florence 1486 – 1530 Florence

Head of a Young Woman, Looking Slightly to Right, circa 1517

A number of historians are of the opinion that the model for this drawing was Lucrezia del Fede, the artist’s wife. Andrea del Sarto was so often inspired by her features when depicting an ideal of beauty that “all the women he painted ended by looking like her” (Vasari, 1550). This sheet is thus linked to various works by the Florentine painter. It is also a very fine example of his remarkable head studies in black or red chalk. The alternation of the blank areas of the paper, the vigorous network of hatchings and use of stumping allow Sarto to obtain various convincing effects of chiaroscuro, and achieve a synthesis between lines, light and shade. The naturalistic quality and the softness of the modelling depicted are echoed in the young woman’s sensitive expression.