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Bearded Man Wearing a Turban Looking Up

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Title Bearded Man Wearing a Turban Looking Up
Material and technique Black and coloured chalks, heightened with white, on blue paper
Object type
Drawing > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height 175 mm
Width 143 mm
Artists Draughtsman: Jacopo Bassano (Jacopo da Ponte)
Accession number I 516 (PK)
Credits Bruikleen / Loan: Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen 1940 (voormalige collectie / former collection Koenigs)
Department Drawings & Prints
Acquisition date 1940
Creation date in circa 1550-1575
Watermark not visible because of backing sheet (vH, ?P)
Inscriptions ‘B.B.no:45’ (verso, above centre, pen and brown ink)
Collector Collector / Franz Koenigs
Mark Z. Sagredo (L.2103a, on backing sheet) inv. B.B. no= 45, F.W. Koenigs (L.1023a, on backing sheet)
Provenance Zaccaria Sagredo (1653-1729, L.2103a, inv. B.B.no:45'), Venice; Marie Marignane Patissou (c. 1880-1925, L.1848), Paris; (?) Art dealer Paul Cassirer, Amsterdam;Franz W. Koenigs (1881-1941, L.1023a), Haarlem, possibly acquired in 1928; D.G. van Beuningen (1877-1955), Rotterdam, acquired with the Koenigs Collection in 1940 and donated to the Foundation Museum Boymans
Exhibitions Amsterdam 1929, no. 168; Venice/Florence 1985, no. 32; Rotterdam/New York 1990, no. 66; Rotterdam 2009 (coll 2 kw 2); Bassano del Grappa 1992, no. 110.
Internal exhibitions Van Pisanello tot Cézanne (1992)
De Collectie Twee - wissel II, Prenten & Tekeningen (2009)
Research Italian Drawings 1400-1600
Literature Amsterdam 1929, no. 168 (F. Bassano); Tietze/Tietze-Conrat 1944, no. 153; Arslan 1960, vol. 1, p. 176 (J. or F. Bassano); Ballarin 1971, p. 141, fig. 7; Rearick 1980a, p. 373; Aikema/Meijer 1985, no. 32, ill.; Rearick 1987, no. I.3, pl. II-b; Luijten/Meij 1990, no. 66, ill. Bassano del Grappa 1992, no. 110. ill.
Highlight > Painting technique > Technique > Material and technique
Geographical origin Italy > Southern Europe > Europe
Place of manufacture Venice > Veneto region > Italy > Southern Europe > Europe

Entry catalogue Italian Drawings 1400-1600

Author: Klazina Botke

Many of Jacopo Bassano’s drawings were done using a combination of different colours of chalk on blue paper. For this head of a man with a beard and a turban he used shades of red, white, orange and pink to lend the face vitality and warmth. To create a softer and more even effect he rubbed the chalk into the blue paper in some places, possibly with his fingertips, while he drew the beard with a number of strongly emphasized strokes chiefly in black chalk and just a few wisps in red chalk. The result was this animated head full of character. Jacopo began experimenting in coloured chalk in the late 1550s and we see this method recur in several of his studies of heads, including the ones in New York and Vienna.[1] The use of coloured chalk did not really catch on in the Veneto, so drawings like this were soon associated with Bassano and his workshop.[2]

The inscription ‘B.B. 45’ appears on the back of the sheet. This is the classification system of the Venetian collector Zaccharia Sagredo (1635-1729); the initials B.B. stand for Bottega Bassanese, the Bassano workshop. After spending some years in Venice, on the death of his father Francesco in 1539, Jacopo settled in his birthplace Bassano del Grappa and took over as head of his father’s painters’ workshop. Here he trained his own sons Francesco, Leandro, Gerolamo and Giovanni Battista. In 1944 Tietze/Tietze-Conrat specifically attributed our drawing to Jacopo after they had compared it with a corresponding study of a head in Vienna that was used in the painting The Descent of the Holy Spirit of around 1559, now in the Museo Civico in Bassano.[3] This attribution is now generally accepted, since in terms of style and technique the study seamlessly echoes other studies of heads done in coloured chalk by the master himself.[4]

Rearick (1987) was the first to observe that this study is based on the figure of King David in the woodcut The Triumph of Christ  (c.1508-16), which is composed of ten blocks and is more than two and a half metres long.[5] This famous print after a design by Titian (c.1487-1576) depicts a procession of biblical and ecclesiastical figures with Christ in the centre on a chariot. Almost at the front of the procession King David walks among other patriarchs and prophets, playing on his lyre. We know that Bassano owned a great many prints from which he often drew inspiration for individual figures, compositions and even small details.[6] He probably also had an impression of The Triumph woodcut, for we can see that he accurately followed the lines and hatching for the turban from the print.[7] We know that he used the same head previously in a fresco (c.1536) in the choir of Santa Lucia at Tezze sul Brenta. Given that the style of the drawings clearly links up with Jacopo’s later chalk studies, including the study of a head in Vienna (1550-60), this can be dated around the same time.[8]


[1] Morgan Library & Museum, inv. 1998.3; Eitel-Porter 2019, no. 65; Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. 1999.164; Albertina, inv. 1553; Bassano del Grappa 1992-93, no. 85.

[2] For the use of coloured chalk and pastel see McGrath 1997, p. 23.

[3] Tietze/Tietze-Conrat 1944, no. 200, pl. 141.

[4] See Byam Shaw’s observation on old backing sheet and Luijten/Meij 1990, no. 66.

[5] Rearick 1987, no. I.3. Bartsch (XII.91.1); There is an example in London, British Museum, inv. 1930,0414.40.

[6] Rearick 1986, pp. 181-82.

[7] Luijten/Meij 1990, no. 66.

[8] Rearick 1987, no. II, 3. There is a similar study of a head, without a beard and only in black chalk in Windsor, Royal Collection, inv. 990835.

Show research Italian Drawings 1400-1600
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All about the artist

Jacopo Bassano (Jacopo da Ponte)

Bassano del Grappa circa 1510 - Venetië 1592

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