Four Studies of Male Heads, by Rembrandt

One of the finest and most memorable of all the drawings in the Abrams collection, this sheet brilliantly illustrates the master's creative imagination in exploring the diversity of similar motifs. The four studies of bearded men in historical or at least old-fashioned costume describe a variety of exotic headgear - a large beret and a cap, and two turbans with a dangling ornament. The intense figure at the far left, viewed from the front, is more finished than the others, shown in profile. Bold splashes of wash define his body, costume, and setting, while the figures to his right are described with swift, looping calligraphy and finely hatched pen work. The profiled figures offer a marvelously exotic conception of historical haberdashery.