Study for the Last Supper (head of Judas)

Study for the Last Supper (head of Judas) c1495

This study of the head and neck of a man seen in three-quarter view, with the head slightly averted from the spectator, is believed to be a study for the figure of Judas in the Last Supper, painted between 1495 and 1498.

In this study from life, Leonardo has drawn from a clean-shaven model, and added a beard in the painting. Giorgio Vasari in his biography of Leonardo, published in 1550, gives a vivid account of how Leonardo sought out criminal types to model for the figure of Judas. In this drawing, the artist concentrates on the physiognomy of the sitter, exploiting the warm tonal values of the red chalk to express the character, expression and movement of the aged figure.

  • Medium Red chalk on reddish prepared paper
  • Size 18 x 15 cm
  • Location The Royal Collection

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