The attribution of the drawing has been confirmed by Dr. Hans Naef from a photograph: he compares it to a pen and ink version in the British Museum. Although the dimensions of the two drawings are different, they both show exactly the same composition. Dr. Naef adds that the signature on the present drawing is typical of Ingres.
The drawing is related to one of Ingres' most celebrated compositions which is known in four painted versions: the first, dating from 1813, was formerly in the museum in Riga, two further pictures, carried out the following year, are in the Fogg Art Museum, and in a New York private collection, and the last is dated to 1846, is in the Gallery of Fine Art in Columbus, G. Vigne, Dessins d'Ingres, Catalogue raisonné des dessins du musée de Montauban, Paris, 1995, pp. 168-9, illustrated. The Louvre has a finished drawing of the composition dated 1825, which according to Georges Vigne is an autograph replica of a lost composition, Vigne, op. cit., p. 169, illustrated.
The present drawing was probably executed around the same time as the Paris sheet. Both drawings are the only known versions in which the picture on the easel is not shown frontally, and is only seen by Raphael and the Fornarina. The position of the Fornarina, resting on Raphael's head, is taken from Ingres' third version which was re-used in the last. The shape of the easel in the present drawing is also similar to these two versions and differs from the one in Paris.
A number of drawings in the Montauban museum are related to the composition. The draughtsmanship of one of these drawings, which is on tracing paper, is less elaborate than the present one, although the composition is more complete and shows Michelangelo in the background.
The subject is part of a series that Ingres planned on Raphael's life of which only one other picture was executed, The Betrothal of Raphael for Caroline Murat. Raphael et la Fornarina depicts Raphael with his model of humble Roman origins, which he depicted in the Madonna della Sedia, now in the Palazzo Pitti.