Two male figures stand in a relaxed, classical contrapposto pose, with each one's body weight resting on one leg. The figure on the left steadies a large shield decorated with a Medusa-like head and looks to the side, apparently gazing at the book being read by his companion.
Scholars are uncertain about the identity of these figures. Andrea Mantegna may have made the studies in preparation for an altarpiece in Verona or for his partly destroyed frescoes in the Ovetari Chapel in Padua. On the verso, he added a reclining male nude and a man with an uplifted arm among the inscriptions-possibly Mantegna's own exercises in penmanship.