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Georg Pencz (circa 1500-1550 Leipzig or Wroclaw)
Georg Pencz (circa 1500-1550 Leipzig or Wroclaw)

Head of a young woman, tilted to the left

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Georg Pencz (circa 1500-1550 Leipzig or Wroclaw) Head of a young woman, tilted to the left black chalk, watermark eagle, shaped 9 7/8 x 6 7/8 in. (250 x 175 mm)

Lot Essay

Pencz was one of the youngest of Dürer's assistants and is said to have painted the decorations for the main hall in the Nuremberg town hall in 1521, now destroyed, based on Dürer's designs. The strong Venetian influence evident in many of his works would appear to signify that Pencz spent some time in Italy. His subsequent ceiling paintings executed in Nuremberg, for instance, strongly suggest that he is likely to have seen Giulio Romano's wall paintings in the Palazzo del Te at Mantua.
The features of the woman in the present drawing can be found elsewhere in Pencz's works, for example those of Pero in the painting, Cimon and Pero, signed and dated 1538 in the National Museum, Warsaw (H.G. Gmelin, Munich Jahrbuch, iii, NF.xviii, 1966, p. 84, fig. 35, no. 17). Here there are the same characteristics, the heavily marked eye-brows, the languid eye-lids, the rose-bud mouth, and the similarly braided hair; indeed the whole proportions of the face are closely similar to those of the head in the drawing. The head of the figure of Melancholy in the painting by Pencz, signed and dated 1545, at Pommersfelden (Gmelin, op. cit., p. 92, fig. 43, p. 86, cat. no. 23) is another example of this kinship of the features. The type and execution of Pencz's women owe much to the example of Palma Vecchio (1480?-1528) and the use of the soft black chalk is broadly Venetian in feeling. The head too is obviously classical in inspiration, although apparently drawn from life.

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