Inspired by Michelangelo's figure of the Prophet Jeremiah in the Sistine Chapel, this drawing may have been executed while Bertoia was working on the decoration of the Oratorio del Gonfalone, Rome, in 1571-2 where he similarly represented Prophets and Sybils.
It can be compared to other sheets related to this famous commission, for example, the Prophet writing in the Uffizi, Florence (D. de Grazia, Bertoia, Mirola and the Farnese Court, Bologna, 1991, no. D15) or a Prophet sleeping in the Louvre with which it shares a similar pose (inv. no. 6532; D. de Grazia, op. cit., no. D70).
If Bertoia's early works show the strong influence of Parmigianino with whom his drawings have often been confused, his Roman oeuvre also responded to the influence of Raphael, Michelangelo, and to the Zuccari, whose assistant he was at Caprarola.