78. Attributed to Pietro Faccini

Bologna 1562 – 1602 Bologna

Portrait of a Young Man (?), Wearing a Ruff

Neither the author of this study nor the model has been identified with certainty. It was considered for many years to be the portrait of a woman, but in fact seems more likely to be that of a man: the short ruff with no lace, closed at the front, belongs to male rather than female fashion of seventeenth-century Emilia. The serious expression and the care with which he is dressed give this portrait a certain solemnity. However, the half-opened mouth seems to allow a light breath to escape, and the sparkling eyes animate his gaze. The most striking aspect of the drawing is its intense chiaroscuro. In the artist’s hand, the red chalk is sometimes linear, sometimes agile, sometimes light and stumped or at other times applied heavily with emphasis; or, alternatively, it is used as a wash to bring all the values together. The draughtsman demonstrates with great virtuosity that he knew how to exploit all that his medium had to offer, and that he had a profound understanding of tonal values.