The drawing is a study, in reverse, for the figure of Saint John the Evangelist in the painting of The Entombment of Christ in the church of the Holy Cross in Senigallia, near Urbino, begun in 1579 and completed by Barocci in 1582 (Emiliani 1985, 150-67). It was the altarpiece for the chapel of the Confraternita della Croce e Sagramento in Senigallia, and an extensive sequence of over 30 preparatory drawings for the Senigallia Entombment survives. Cartoons for the entire composition exist in the Dutch Royal collection (Paris and elsewhere 1962, no. 128) and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (inv. 85.GG.26; Goldner 1988, no. 3). Studies for the same figure include an oil sketch for the head of Saint John in a private collection (Pillsbury 1978, 171, no. 1) and a chalk figure study formerly in the Koenigs collection in Rotterdam and now in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow.
Olsen 1955, 134; Olsen 1962, 172; Bertela 1975, 52; Cleveland and New Haven 1978, 62-63, no. 39; Boston and elsewhere 1989, 90, no. 40; Marciari & Verstegen 2008, 312.
Study for the figure of Saint John in Barocci's Entombment in the Church of Santa Croce, Senigallia, 1579-82.