Head study for Saint John the Baptist oil and black chalk on paper, laid down on canvas 42.7 x 28.7cm (16 13/16 x 11 5/16in). unframed
PROVENANCE: Sale, Sotheby's, London, 10 July 2003, lot 162 With Jean-Luc Baroni, London, 2004
The present sketch was most likely intended as a study for a larger composition which included Saint John the Baptist, although the exact correspondence with a painting by Passarotti has still to be found. Undoubtedly, the facial type is typical of the artist's ouevre and often recurs in his repertoire: the figure shows some similarities to the Saint John in the Presentation of Christ in the Temple with Saints, now in the Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome, as well as to the Saint Anthony of Padua for the Church of Santa Caterina dei Cappuccini in Parma.
Passarotti can be regarded as one of the first artists who painted head sketches in Bologna. The practice employed in the Carracci's workshop from the 1590s might derive from Venice, where the Carracci spent some time and where the technique of making oil sketches on paper was relatively widespread.