Joseph Heintz the Elder (Swiss, 15641609)
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, red chalk, heightened with white body color, on yellow tinted paper; Oval 9 1/4 x 12 5/8 in. (23.5 x 32 cm)
Laid down on verso of mount: offset of drawing by Heintz of Virgin and Child in black and red chalk
Purchase, 2006 Benefit Fund, 2007 (2007.174)
This drawing is a rare and outstanding example of Joseph Heintz the Elder's mature and most elaborate drawing style. Related to one of Heintz's most important paintings, made in 1599, probably for Emperor Rudolf II (Alte Pinakothek, Munich), the sheet is typical of the work of artists active at Rudolf's Prague court, who favored complex compositions with many figures in distorted positions and mythological subjects, often of a slightly lascivious nature. Combining fluent yet expressive pen lines, carefully applied heightening with white body color, red chalk, and washes, Heintz masterfully succeeded in adapting his composition to an oval form. Although there seems to be no direct literary source for the subject of this drawing and the corresponding painting, it has been connected to the story of Pan and Syrinx in Ovid's Metamorphoses.