Federico Barocci used different colored chalks against colored paper to create a dynamic composition of a single head. He placed the boy's head diagonally on the page, and gave it a sense of forward motion by heavily applying light-colored chalks on the face. These light tones appear to advance to the front, and that movement is heightened by the recession into space created by the blue paper. Throughout his career, Barocci made many such studies of heads drawn from life in colored chalks.
Barocci made this tender drawing as a study for the head of the infant Ascanius, son of Aeneas, in his only secular narrative painting, Aeneas's Flight from Troy. Lightly drawn studies for the figure of Ascanius cover the verso.