Nicolas Poussin never tired of studying antiquities, and his recordings of them make up a large proportion of his body of drawings. For this sketch, he probably copied two ancient statues, noting each variation in the arrangement of their drapery. Emphasizing the pattern of folds, he traced the heavier cloth of the mantle worn over the lighter, crinkly fabric of the short tunic.
The verso shows a section of a Roman table support currently in a museum in Naples. During Poussin's lifetime, the table stood in a Medici family villa in Rome. The left side shows Scylla, a woman who became a female monster with wild dogs baying around her waist. From her rock on the Italian side of the Straits of Messina, she barked like a dog and threatened sailors. A centaur, half horse and half man, supported the right half of the table.