The attribution of this drawing to Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione was kindly confirmed by Ann Percy on the basis of a photograph. The nervous pen technique of this drawing is comparable to that of two drawings by Castiglione in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York and at the Accademia in Venice dating from the late 1640s (A. Percy, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, exhib. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1971, nos. 23-4). The theme of a man wearing a turban is also close to that of the two series of etchings depicting heads of orientals datable to slightly later in Castiglione's career (B. 48-53 and B. 38-47, G. Dillon in Il genio de Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, il Grechetto, exhib. cat., Genoa, Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, 1990, nos. 68-85).
Mary Newcome has also suggested that the present drawing, of an intense looking figure, may be a self-portrait of the artist. Indeed the attributes of the book, the pyramid, symbolising eternity, and the phoenix, symbolising resurrection or renewal, would be the appropriate elements to accompany Castiglione's self-portrait. Other possible self-portraits of the artist are in the Piò, and formerly Crozat, collection, now in Stockholm (A. Percy, op. cit., no. 68), in the Duomo at Mantua (E. Gavazza in Il genio de Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, il Grechetto, fig. 1) and probably part of the series of the aforementioned oriental figures (A. Percy, op. cit., no. E19).