Pfeiffer, born in Lige, came to Amsterdam as a child with his father, also an artist. In 1797, he was appointed painter at the local opera house. He founded the Thatre optique of moving images, which attracted much attention in his time.
The present drawing appears to be a design for the third act of Aballino, a tragedy by Heinrich Zschokke, first performed in the Amsterdam Opera House in 1796. The figures are Doge Andrea Gritti surprised by the armed bandit Aballino, who demands that the Doge forfeit the hand of his niece Rosamunde of Corfu as a condition of his leaving Venice