Reading Three Pipe Problem’s exemplary post on the Portrait of a Young Man in the Royal collection, and associated drawings, put me in mind of another drawing, in the Louvre. Catalogued also as Portrait of a Young Man, this sheet entered the Louvre collections in 1935 after Edmond de Rothschild left it to the museum. Executed in black chalk, it has a light feathery handling, and to my mind- and eye- it’s an autograph drawing. It also contains the inscription “Ritratto di se medessimo quando Giovane”-“Portrait of Himself when young.”. Now if it’s incontestably by Raphael, could it be a self-portrait? H Wagner was disinclined to think so; he said the sheet was actually the work of an unknown artist who represented Raphael at the age of 16 or 17 years of age. All these arguments are summarised in an exhibition catalogue of 1984. 
What might undermine its candidacy for a self-portrait is the unusual turned-up hat; this headgear helps us to connect it to a figure (the prophet Daniel) in a fresco executed by Raphael’s teacher, Perugino, in the Collegio del Cambio, in Perugia, approximately 1497-1500. As the style puts it also close to the Sposalizio (Milan 1504), the Louvre curators suggested a date between1500-04. This seems logical, and what also helps to put it in that timeframe is its stylistic, and arguably iconographic affinity, with a sheet in the British Museum, now increasingly seen as a self-portrait.
That particular sheet in the British Museum (also done in black chalk, and also with the same inscription) was the subject of a hypothesis by the legendary curators and connoisseurs, Philip Pouncey and J.A. Gere. Their comments are worth quoting:
“Fischel’s dating of the verso at a time when Raphael was aged about twenty-one completely excluded, for him, the possibility of it being a self-portrait. On the other hand, he accepts as a youthful self-portrait (c.1498) another boy’s head…bearing an identical inscription in the same hand. [This is the famous sheet in the Ashmoleon, usually dated about 1500-2, and looking less like a self-portrait these days, despite its autograph status]. Our opinion is the reverse of his. We agree with Robinson and with Parker in dating the Ashmolean head c. 1504 and in rejecting its identification as a self-portrait, but are strongly inclined to accept no. 1 as such. The eyes, unlike those in the Ashmoleon drawing, stare intently at the spectator in a way characteristic of self-portraits (Fischel notes this trotziger Blick, but draws no conclusion from it) and Raphael in c. 1500 would have been about sixteen or seventeen, which could be the age of the boy here portrayed.”
All well and good, but where does that leave the Louvre drawing? I think it’s reasonable to say that it has some connection with the British Museum variant: they’re both executed in black chalk; they both carry the same inscription. They also both show that unflinching glance out at the spectator, as Pouncey and Gere say, typical of self-portraits. And if it’s the same model as the one in London, then one might venture it’s Raphael himself. The Louvre sheet closely resembles the Daniel in Perugino’s fresco, but the way this sheet is individualised leads me to ponder its possible status as a self-portrait. My hypothesis would be that despite working under Perugino, the young Raphael wanted to assert his independence and self-reliance; something of that comes through here, despite its connection to Perugino’s commission.
Raphael wasn’t the kind of renaissance artist who tried to best his teacher by going up against him openly; like the young Leonardo causing his master Verrocchio to recognise his superior talent and give up his palette in despair. This engraving by the nineteenth-century French artist, Jean Gigoux is indebted to Vasari’s account of Leonardo’s life. Raphael didn’t operate like that; he was competitive, but was always respectful of those who taught him. Perhaps the Louvre drawing should be seen in that light.
 Raphael dans les collections françaises, Paris, 1984, 167.
 Philip Pouncey and J.A. Gere, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, Raphael and His Circle, London, 1962, 2 vols., vol 1, pp. 2-3, no.1, verso.
 See in the entry in the exhibition catalogue, Raphael: From Urbino to Rome, exhibition catalogue, London, 2004, no 1, p. 68.
 Pouncey and Gere, Raphael and His Circle, vol 1, pp. 2-3, no.1, verso.