The drawing was engraved in imitation of red chalk by the Danish painter and engraver Isak Henningsen, active in Paris between 1755 and 1759. Boucher drew a number of male academic nudes for didactic purposes, many of which were engraved by Louis-Félix de la Rue (Livre d'Académies dessinées d'après le naturel par François Boucher, Peintre du Roi published by Huquier, Jean-Richard 1257-1266), Bonnet (Jean-Richard 300-312) and Huquier (Baudicourt 27-8). The sale of Boucher's studio in the year after his death included ten academic nudes. The same model as in the present drawing was used again by Boucher in a drawing formerly with the Slatkin Gallery (G.L. Davidson, op. cit., pp. 50-1), and in sheets at the Museum of Fine Arts in San Francisco, at Cailleux in 1964 and in the National Gallery in Oslo. Other male nudes were sold at Christie's New York, 24 January 2001, lot 108 and illustrated in M. Roland-Michel, Le dessin français au XVIIIe siècle, Fribourg, 1987, p. 70, fig. 57.
As a professeur titulaire at the Academy from 1737, and Director from 1765, Boucher would have a month each year instructing students. One of his tasks would have been to teach drawing from a nude model, usually a man named Deschamps who posed for the classes for over forty years. The first task was to choose a pose for the model, and the lesson proceeded from there. These classes were very popular and quite frequently attracted over one hundred students. The type of male nude exemplified by the present drawing was probably drawn by Boucher during these classes. Many professors, notably Boucher and Carle Vanloo, had their male academic nude studies engraved, and then bound into albums.
The attribution has kindly been confirmed by Alastair Laing on studying the original.