(Antwerp 1619 - London 1697)
Six Studies of the Head of Michelangelo’s Dying Slave
A small loss at the lower right corner.
Inscribed Ceur foriant qu-(?) on the reverse of the old mount.
110 x 158 mm. (4 3/8 x 6 1/8 in.)
While it has sometimes proved difficult to distinguish between the drawings of Edward and Simon Dubois, the present sheet may be more favourably attributed to the elder brother. It is he who seems to have been responsible for a small but distinctive group of drawings on prepared paper which take the form of several studies of a particular motif seen from various angles, to judge from a sheet of studies of various male nudes, inscribed ‘Dubois’, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as another drawing of nude and draped figures, which is inscribed ‘Du Boise’ and ‘Edward’, at Christ Church in Oxford.
This drawing depicts, from a number of different viewpoints, the head of Michelangelo’s sculpture known as The Dying Slave, carved between 1513 and 1516 and intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II. Measuring well over two metres in height, this famous marble sculpture is today in the Louvre. By the mid-17th century, Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, together with a pendant sculpture known as the Rebellious Slave, had been installed in the Château de Richelieu, between Poitiers and Tours in west-central France. Although Dubois may have spent some time in France, it is unlikely that he would have seen the sculpture itself. Instead, the artist was here probably working from a small bronze cast or terracotta model of the head of the Dying Slave, which he would have allowed him to study and draw it from several angles.
Closely comparable drawings by Edward Dubois include a sheet of studies of the head of an infant, formerly in the collection of Michael Jaffé, sold at auction in 2019, and a drawing of seven studies of the head of a bearded man, which also appeared at auction in 2019.