Support: Cream(3) laid paper
Sheet: 13.1 x 19.5 cm (5 3/16 x 7 11/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1973.36
Catalogue raisonné: Rosenberg and Prat 393
Scholars have suggested that Jacques-Louis David might have intended this drawing as a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, who the artist supported. The former leader died a prisoner on the island of Saint Helena in 1821.
This drawing belongs to a series of enigmatic sheets that the French artist Jacques-Louis David created while living as an exile in Brussels from 1816 until his death in 1825. Many of these untitled works present close-up views of expressive heads and were given by the artist to his friends. This image of a turbaned man next to a hanging chain and oil lamp loosely references David's painting The Intercession of Saint Roch (1780) from much earlier in his career.
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