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Guido Reni (Bologna 1575-Bologna 1642)

The head of a woman c.1626

Red and black chalks | 31.1 x 24.2 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 903196

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This drawing of the head of a young woman is not connected with any known painting by Reni. She may be tentatively identified as Reni's niece: she bears a striking resemblance to a woman in an engraving after Agostino Carracci that was supposedly based on a drawing by Reni of his niece.

The sheet has been stamped with the larger eight-pointed star associated with Nicholas Lanier (Lugt 2885). It is possible that Lanier acquired the drawing directly from the artist's studio, in Bologna in 1626, when he was buying a painting from Reni for Charles I. According to Roger North, Lanier made the most of his overseas trips, and as well as securing artworks for his clients, he would 'at the same time agree to have a good parcel of waste paper drawings, that had been collected, but not much esteemed, for himself'. This practice may account for a number of contemporary drawings that bear 'Lanier stars'.

Text adapted from Charles II: Art & Power, London, 2017