Drawn in preparation for Mola's painting now in the Scardeoni Collection, Lugano (Pier Francesco Mola, exhib. cat., Lugano, Museo Cantonale d'Arte, and elsewhere, 1989-90, no. I.13). Two other studies for the painting are known, in the Teylers Museum, Haarlem, and Princeton University Art Museum (op. cit., nos. III.10-11). The present drawing can be dated between these two stages in the development of the composition. While the pose of Saint Jerome in the drawing under discussion is closest to the Haarlem drawing, it exhibits a bold handling of chalk which prefigures the aggressive use of pen and brown ink found in the Haarlem drawing. All three drawings are in reverse to the painting.
The project was dated by Richard Cocke to circa 1652 (R. Cocke, Pier Francesco Mola, Oxford, 1972, p. 43), and the Haarlem drawing includes an inscription on the verso to Monsignor Omodei for whom Mola worked between 1652-55, all of which supports dating the present drawing to the same period.
The attribution to Mola was confirmed by Ann Sutherland Harris and Nicholas Turner.