This drawing precedes a more finished study of the whole composition in the British Museum (A. Weston-Lewis, op. cit., fig. 23), and gives a fascinating insight into Albani's working practice. We see the artist laying out the arrangement of putti around the figure of the dying Adonis with quick strokes, amending each figure as he goes and then boldly cancelling the putto to the right who would otherwise interupt the line of sight between Adonis and Venus, advancing from the right in the British Museum drawing. Having settled on a final arrangement he rubbed the verso in black chalk and carefully traced through the finished outlines onto a second sheet, perhaps the British Museum drawing itself. Traces of stylus lines can still be seen in several sections of the drawing.
Aidan Weston-Lewis has shown that the style of both drawings can be connected to the draughtsmanship of Albani's master Annibale Carracci, and that the finished composition depends in part on Domenichino's fresco for the garden loggia at the Palazzo Farnese, painted in 1603-04. This would suggest that the Death of Adonis composition was planned early in Albani's career, perhaps while he was still in Rome. It may indeed be associated with a lost painting of unknown date recorded in an 18th Century inventory of the Orsini Collection, Naples: 'Un quadro alto p. mi4, e lungo p. mi6 Venere piangete, Adonis con varii amorini' (A. Weston-Lewis, op. cit., p. 319).