The sketch-like execution of this work suggests that it is probably a head study. These were mostly done during the preparations for large works containing multiple figures and are mentioned in the inventory of Rubens’s estate taken in 1640 as “tronien of koppen naer’t leven” (faces or heads after life). It cannot be ascertained with absolute certainty whether this portrait of a man is a study of an ecclesiastical or secular dignitary. The dark habit and appearance as a whole would seem to suggest that he could be a monk or a member of a religious order. What militates against this conclusion however is the medallion in the shape of the sun suspended on a heavy gold chain as well as the hairstyle, which seems somewhat too luxuriant for a man of God.

In his use of painted head studies Rubens was following a Flemish tradition which is found as early as Frans Floris (1516–1570) and was continued by Maerten de Vos (1532–1603)
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Peter Paul Rubens
Portrait of a Monk (?)
Oil on wood
Hohenbuchau Collection, Inv.-No. HB-67
Further works on display
Decius Mus relating his dream, 1616/1617
Decius Mus preparing for Death, 1616/1617
The Death of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Obsequies of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Dismissal of the Lictors, 1616/1617
The Interpretation of the Victim, 1616/1617
The Trophy, 1616/1617
The Assumption of the Virgin, c. 1637
Venus in Front of the Mirror, 1614/1615
Oil sketch of Mars and Rhea Silvia, c. 1616/1617
Mars und Rhea Silvia, c. 1616/1617
The Discovery of the Infant Erichthonius, c. 1616
Satyr and Maid with Fruit Basket, 1615
The Lamentation, c. 1612
Christ Triumphant over Sin and Death, 1615/1622
Double Portrait of Albert and Nikolaus Rubens, c. 1626/1627
Portrait of Jan Vermoelen, 1616
Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens, c. 1616
Henry IV seizes the Opportunity to conclude Piece, 1628
The Victory of Henry IV at Coutras, 1628
The Consecration of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Obsequies of Decius Mus
Three Music-Making Angels, on the reverse side of St Joachim, 1615/1620
St. Catherine in the Clouds, 1620/1621
Four Music-Making Angels, on the reverse side of St Anne, 1615/1620
Apollo in the Chariot of the Sun, 1621/1625
The Conversion of St. Paul, 1601/1602
Perseus and Andromeda
The Virgin adorned with flowers, 1609/1610
Psyche taken up into Olympus, 1621
Landscape with Milkmaids and Cows, 1616
Allegory of war, 1628
The Hunt of Meleager and Atalanta, 1628 (?)
The Assumption of the Virgin, modello, 1637
Ganymede, 1611/1612
Diana´s Hunt, 1628
St. Francis of Assisi before the Crucified Christ, 1625
Adoration of the Magi, 1609/1610
The Visitation, 1611/1612
Portrait of Nicolaas Rockox, 1615
Samson and Delilah, c. 1610
Related themes
Hohenbuchau Collection
Samson and Delilah. A Rubens painting returns
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