WEYDEN, Rogier van der
(b. 1400, Tournai, d. 1464, Bruxelles)

Head of the Madonna

c. 1460
Silverpoint on prepared paper, 128 x 109 mm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The finely drawn Head of the Madonna is obviously not from life. It represents a type of the Virgin very frequent in Rogier's work, and comparable to the panel of the Madonna that was one leaf of a diptych, with the other showing Jean Gros (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tournai, and Art Institute, Chicago). A similar painting must have been the model for this drawing, which executes the face in fine detail, translating colour values into black and white, for instance in the lips, but breaks sharply with this precision where the head-dress begins; the folds of the cloth are merely suggested by a few outlines obviously copied from an existing model. In all its details, including the folds of the headdress, the drawing resembles the head of a half length painted Madonna from the circle around Rogier, now on permanent loan to the Kurpfalzisches Museum, Heidelberg. It could either precede the drawing, which may have been from Rogier's workshop, or have been painted from it.

The Head of the Madonna, however, conveys an impression of what some of the drawings in the stocks of Rogier's workshop may have been like.