The unfinished central figure represents Orpheus, the mythological Greek musician and poet, playing his lyre. According to legend, the beauty of Orpheus’s music inspired animals to follow him. In the background stands a colonnaded facade representing the Septizonium, the ancient Roman building that was destroyed in 1589, several decades after this drawing was produced. The figure of Orpheus remains incomplete either because the sheet was used to transfer the finished background to an engraving plate, on which there was a preexisting central figure, or, alternatively, the drawing may have been copied from an unfinished engraving.
Inscription: Annotated in the same darker ink at the bottom center in a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century hand: Rafael.
Marking: Framing line in pen and darker brown ink drawn over the figures and the setting at the edges.