This handsome study of a youth has been dated by both Sir Denis Mahon and Nicholas Turner to the 1630s. Stylistically it resembles a number of studies drawn by the artist in the second half of that decade, and can be closely compared to the red chalk study of a young man standing, now at Windsor.1 The latter is preparatory for the figure of Apollo in a painting of Apollo flaying Marsyas (now lost but known from a copy), for which Guercino was paid on 18 December 1637 by Saulo Guidotti of Bologna. Two other separate studies of an angel in pen and ink, also at Windsor and connected with Guercino's Annunciation in the Ospedale Maggiore, SS. Annunziata, Milan (datable 1638-9) are also close in style to this drawing.2 The present drawing does not appear to be connected to a known work, but a similar figure of a youth appears in reverse in a much later painting by Guercino, the Prodigal Son of around 1654-55 (fig. 1).
1. See Denis Mahon and Nicholas Turner, The Drawings of Guercino..., Cambridge 1989, p. 54, cat. no. 91, reproduced fig. 96
2. See Mahon and Turner, op.cit., p. 55, cat. nos. 94-5, reproduced figs. 99-100
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