Cento 1591 – 1666 Bologna

A Man seen in Profile, reading a Book


Pen and brown ink

195 x 136 mm


Executed circa 1640-1650.

This portrait of a man seen in profile to the left was probably drawn from life. The figure’s gaze appears to be diverted from the book placed to his right, suggesting its function as an attribute. Thus, this may well be a study for a philosopher. 


The loose handling of the pen and the use of stippling on the figure’s face bring our sheet close to Guercino’s Saint John the Evangelist in meditation, now in the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Art, San Francisco.¹ Datable to circa 1645-50, the Achenbach drawing was later engraved in reverse by Domenico Maria Bonaveri (1653-1731).²


The combination of line and stipple technique is most frequently found in Guercino’s drawings of the late 1630s and 1640s that were made to be engraved by Giovanni Battista Pasqualini (1595-1631). However, the artist later continued to use stippling in studies not connected to prints. 


  1. San Francisco, Achenbach Foundation, inv. no. 1976-2-19, pen and brown ink on laid paper mounted on an album page, 218 x 199 mm; D. Stone, Guercino Master Draftsman, exhib. cat., Cambridge, Harvard University Art Museums, et al., 1991, p. 108, no. 46, illustrated p. 109.

  2. P. Bagni, Il Guercino e il suo falsario. I disegni di figura, Bologna 1990, p. 44, reproduced. For the drawing by Bonaveri after Guercino in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, inv. no. 2534, see idem, p. 46, no. 25 illustrated.