The present drawing is one of a number made by contemporary artists after Michelangelo's highly finished presentation drawing, now in the Royal Library at Windsor, that he gave to the young Roman nobleman Tommaso de'Cavalieri (P. Joannides, Michelangelo and His Influence: Drawings from Windsor Castle, exhib. cat., Washington, National Gallery of Art, and elsewhere, 1996-97, no. 12a). Another copy attributed to Bronzino and a third formerly attributed to Giulio Clovio are also at Windsor (P. Joannides, op. cit., nos. 13 and 14). The existence of a number of copies after Cavalieri's drawing can be attributed to the rarity of drawings by Michelangelo outside his famously secretive studio. Tityus was a Greek Giant who attempted to rape the goddess Leto. As a punishment for his crime he was slain by Apollo and Artemis, then chained to a rock in Hades where two ravenous vultures fed eternally on his liver.
An attribution to Sophonisba Anguissola has been suggested for the present drawing.