Attesting to Annibale's radical draftsmanship and naturalistic attitude, this sheet relates to a group of head studies, all in red chalk highlighted in white gouache, executed by the youngest of the Carracci from the mid to the late 1580s, at a time when he was establishing the Accademia degli Incamminati in Bologna.
This profile is caught in a powerful foreshortening from below (which makes it nearly a profil perdu), a trademark of Annibale's early style which is still influenced by the late Mannerist vocabulary of Prospero Fontana and Pellegrino Tibaldi. Close stylistic and technical comparisons are offered by two studies in the British Museum of a young man pulling on a sock and a violin player, both for the The Baptism of Christ, painted by Annibale in the mid 1580s for S. Gregorio, Bologna (D. Benati and D. De Grazia, The Drawings of Annibale Carracci, Washington, D.C, 1999, nos. 6-7, ill.). Characterized by protruding lips and a long nose, Annibale might have used the same young model depicted in the Bonna sheet for the disrobing man in the Louvre, another study related to the Baptism (inv. 7320; see ibid., no. 8, ill.).
The attribution to Annibale Carracci was confirmed by Catherine Loisel (written communication to the present owner, 25 May 2006) and more recently by Daniele Benati, who dates to drawing to ca. 1585-1586. While having published the drawing in 1972 with a tentative attribution to Carlo Bononi, Eric Schleier now also considers the work to be by Annibale Carracci.