This hitherto unpublished sheet is an important addition to the corpus of Hans Hoffmann's drawings. It is one of several studies of heads which the artist made after drawings by Drer or in emulation of his style. Hoffmann is well known for his studies after Drer's drawings which were in the collection of Willibald Imhoff in Nuremberg in the second half of the 16th Century. Several of these, formerly in the collection of Paulus Praun in Nuremberg, are now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. They are usually executed on blue or prepared paper in the same technique as the present sheet. Particularly close in style and handling is the study of a head of a cleric, after a drawing by Drer in Berlin, now at Budapest, Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Das Praunsche Kabinett. Meisterwerke von Drer bis Carracci, exhib. cat., 1994, no. 65, illustrated.
Hoffmann inscribed the present drawing with Drer's monogram and date '1520'. This is common practice with him, several of his drawings after Drer are inscribed with the latter's monogram. Characteristic are, for instance, Hoffmann's drawing of Four Feathers (whereabouts unknown) or the study of a Dead Blue Roller in a private collection, Paris. The monograms on these drawings are identical with that on the present sheet, F. Koreny and K. Oberhuber, "Albrecht Drer und Hans Hoffmann. Die Flgelstudien in Wien, Bamberg, Bayonne, und der Ian Woodner Family Collection, New York", Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, 1986/7, pp. 20-1, nos. 11.2 and 25.1. Fritz Koreny has convincingly argued that there are slight but characteristic differences between Drer's monogram and Hoffmann's imitation. One of the main differences is Drer's capital 'D' which does not align with the capital 'A' (which is slightly raised). In Hoffmann's drawings, such as the present sheet, the two letters of the monogram are usually aligned.
The question remains whether the head of the old man was made in the manner of Drer's drawings or whether it actually records a lost drawing possibly dating from 1520. In a letter to the former owner dated 12 June 1964, Professor Friedrich Winkler suggested that Hoffmann's study is probably based on a drawing that Drer made during his trip to the Netherlands in 1520-1.