Study of Two Heads

Artist: Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Siegen 1577–1640 Antwerp)

Date: ca. 1609

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 27 1/2 x 20 1/2 in. (69.9 x 52.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967

Accession Number: 67.187.99


Rubens painted studies of heads after live models and artistic sources, creating a cast of characters that served in turn as models for figures in religious and mythological works. The main figure here became a saint in a great altarpiece of 1609, a high priest in 1612, and a river god, then Plato (in an engraving after Rubens) in about 1615. The other head, derived from one by Mantegna, had a similar but shorter family tree. Rubens’s disciples Jacob Jordaens and especially Van Dyck followed the same practice (as seen in Gallery 630).