In 1892 Menzel finished his last oil painting: for the rest of his life he concentrated on drawings executed in black lead and stumping. The majority of his late drawings represent elderly people, mostly drawn from a close range. His 1893 sketchbook from his trip to Karlsbad contains many darwings of heads, and the late sketchbook from 1903 to the same city is entirely dedicated to such studies. Menzel used professional models as well as random people to sit for him. In most cases, these drawings show single heads but occasionally Menzel drew seemingly unrelated people on one sheet, thus creating spontaneous and psychologically fascinating encounters.
The present drawing is a characteristic example of Menzel's use of black lead and stumping. The artist began with the stumped areas and then worked out the details with black lead. This technique allowed him to exploit the full range of gray tones reaching from the light and soft gray wisps of the stumping to the deep dark areas achieved by the forceful application of the lead.