Ananoff related this drawing to an early painting by Boucher, the Venus and Adonis of 1733 now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy (Ananoff and Wildenstein, op. cit., I, no. 86). The figure in the painting faces left, while the one in the drawing faces right. But as Regina Slatkin (op. cit.) has shown, the subject of the drawing is more likely Saint John the Baptist although no known composition can be connected with it.
Alastair Laing, whom we thank for his kind help in cataloguing this lot, has suggested it was actually sketched from an Italian painting. The oval, into which it seems to have been drawn rather than cut to fit, might support such an idea.