One of the famous series of portraits of early 17th Century Roman society which according to Mariette, who saw the group together in the sale of Monsieur d'Aubigny in 1747, eventually numbered more than 400 and originally belonged to Prince Borghese. Leoni began to number the series shortly after he was elected Principe of the Academia di San Luca in 1614, which has allowed John Spike to compile an almost complete inventory of the series (J. Spike, op. cit.).
Leoni's portrait of the painter Carlo Saraceni (Christie's, London, 24 March 1961, lot 121), which was one of the sixteen drawings that Mariette bought at the d'Aubigny sale, also bears the same curious skull and crossbones ideogram found on the present drawing. That portrait is dated 1614, and as Saraceni died in 1620 it could either be Leoni's record of his passing or a later collector's mark.
The sitter of the present drawing may be Donna Margherita Tagliavia d'Aragona, wife of Don Luigi Sanseverino (1588-1669), Count of Saponara and Prince of Bisignano, nephew of Lucio Sanseverino who was elected Cardinal in the Consistory of 1621.