This sheet is preparatory for the figure of Daniel in Rubens's painting Daniel in the Lions' Den. After establishing the position of the figures in compositional drawings and oil sketches, Rubens would make studies after the model for major figures to guide studio assistants in the execution of a painting. Here he outlined the figure in black chalk and blocked out shadows to indicate volume and light. The painting's fidelity to this study indicates that it belongs to the final stages of preparation.
Tuinen, Ilona van. Power and Grace : Drawings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens. New York : Morgan Library & Museum, 2018, no. 4 (repr.)
Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, I, 232.
Stampfle, Felice, with the assistance of Ruth S. Kraemer and Jane Shoaf Turner. Netherlandish Drawings of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries and Flemish Drawings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1991, p. 142, no. 306, repr.
From Leonardo to Pollock: Master drawings from the Morgan Library. New York: Morgan Library, 2006, cat. no. 37, p. 80-81.
A tour de force in Rubens's drawn oeuvre, this powerful drawing of a muscular male nude is a study for the figure of Daniel in the celebrated painting Daniel in the Lions' Den, now at the National Gallery in Washington, D. C. Rubens likely drew this formidable figure from a live model in his studio, a practice he would teach to van Dyck and Jordaens a few years later. At the same time, the pose is very close to one in a drawing by Girolamo Muziano that Rubens most likely owned. Rubens may have used that work as a template for posing his model. This drawing thus demonstrates Rubens's conviction that art should respond to older art but ultimately always imitate nature. -- Exhibition Label, from "Power and Grace: Drawings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens"