(San Matteo della Decima 1734 - Bologna 1802)
The Head of a Young Woman
145 x 103 mm. (5 3/4 x 4 in.)
A fine example of the artist’s draughtsmanship, the present sheet is a preparatory study, in reverse and of identical size, for one of Gaetano Gandolfi’s few etchings, depicting The Head of a Woman in Profile to the Right. The small etching, one of Gaetano’s rare forays into the medium, has been dated to the late 1770s or 1780s. (The etching also appears along with six other prints by Gandolfi, two of them signed, in a single large sheet; examples are in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna and in a private collection.) As Donatella Biagi Maino has noted of the present sheet, ‘This drawing, both for its preparatory character but especially for the superb quality of draughtsmanship and invention…should be considered an important addition to the catalogue of drawings by Gandolfi.’
A nearly identical head of a young woman reappears on a drawing by Gaetano of eight different studies of heads, which was on the art market recently in Germany. Similar female heads may also be found throughout the artist’s painted oeuvre, such as a Portrait of a Young Woman in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna and a painting of the Head of a Young Girl, signed and dated ‘G. Gandolfi 1763’, in a Bolognese private collection. It has been suggested that some of these heads may be portraits of the artist’s young wife Giovanna Spisani, whom he married in 1763, and who posed for a number of paintings by her husband.
This drawing is sold with an impression of the etching for which it is a preparatory study.