In this preliminary study for his Disputa fresco in the Vatican, Raphael Sanzio rendered several of the figures with extraordinary clarity and economy. The central philosopher turning intently away from the viewer, the ghostly hooded figure on the right, and the men in animated discussion behind all appear in detail. Raphael varied the lines from the squiggles of the philosopher's hair to the straight folds of the standing monk's cloak, which seem to barely touch the page. This sheet also reveals the artist's thought process as he worked up the main figure from the nude, carefully manipulating the anatomical details so as to provide a believable structure and volume for the completely draped figure in the fresco.
The verso contains three even quicker sketches of the philosopher, along with an earlier idea for the young man who turns outward in the fresco's left foreground.