Pontormo sketched both the recto and verso figures from a nude male model, probably in his studio. He probably made the studies in preparation for a fresco he painted at a Medici villa outside Florence from 1520 to 1521. After conceiving of the composition of the fresco as a whole, he tried out individual figures. He may have used and reused aspects of the pose of this body for several of the fresco's figures.
Biographer Giorgio Vasari wrote that Pontormo almost obsessively revised his ideas for this fresco; his many known drawings for the project attest to the search for perfection. In the foot and calf of this figure in particular, Pontormo approached the paper repeatedly, imparting almost nervous energy as he refined the lines. On the verso, the smooth outlines of the reclining figure skillfully match the relaxation and refinement of the pose itself. Pontormo ultimately transformed this figure's pose into that of a female attendant in the fresco.