Correggio made this drawing as a preparatory study for the fresco decorations in the church of Saint John the Evangelist in Parma. The fresco was meant to be viewed from underneath an arch, with the spectator looking upwards toward the majestic figure of Christ.
Correggio stressed Christ's heavenly nature through subtle modulations of light and dark. He combined red chalk and opaque white to produce a range of pinks that enhance the drawing's delicacy and atmospheric effects. Watercolor wash in brown and gray and touches of opaque white describe figures and clouds, lending the drawing a soft, almost airy quality.