Ribera's fascination with profiles of heads, often with grotesque features, is attested by the large number of drawings and etchings he made of them. While the present figure lacks the physical distortions seen in so many of the artist's drawings, the rendering of the features as well as the shading covering the man's eyes, are highly characteristic. Similar shading, cast by a saucepan used as a hat, can be seen, for example, in a drawing by Ribera, now in the École-des Beaux-Arts, Paris (Inv. Mas. 2724; V. Farina, 'Ribera mirando a Leonardo: nuevas observaciones, una desconocida'caricatura de vieja' y otra inédita cabeza grotesca', Ars & Renovatio, 2015, no. 3, p. 88, fig. 22). The fine handling of the chalk, the parallel hatching as well as the subtle use of wash, can also be seen in a profile study of a man, William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberly, South Africa (Inv. 1927; V. Farina, op. cit., p. 83, fig. 15), and in another profile study in the National Gallery of Art, Washington (Inv. 1984.41.1).
Both Prof. Viviana Farina and Dr. Gabriele Finaldi, to whom we are grateful for assistance in preparing this catalogue entry and for confirming the attribution on the basis of examination of the original (Gabriele Finaldi) and a digital photograph (Viviana Farina), have suggested a date of the mid-1620s for this drawing.
The present drawing will be published by Gabriele Finaldi in his forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Ribera's drawings.