Francesco Primaticcio made this drawing as a preparatory study for the last decorative project he planned, the central section of the chapel ceiling in the Hôtel de Guise, Paris. Nicolò dell'Abate painted the frescoes after Primaticcio's designs. Unfortuntaely, the decoration was destroyed in the 1800s, and scholars can now only reconstruct it through written descriptions, prints, and drawings such as this one. The ceiling's central section showed God the Father in glory surrounded by angels. An apparently complete study in the Louvre Museum shows the entire design squared for transfer.
With one exception, the studies of arms on this sheet reappear in the Louvre modello. In developing a project, Primaticcio probably began by establishing the composition as a whole and then developing the poses of individual figures. His next step might have been studies of details, like this sheet.