This energetic study of a male nude (as well as another drawing by the artist in the Lehman Collection, 1975.1.610) relate to Degas' Young Spartans Exercising (National Gallery, London), a painting he produced around 1860 and which preoccupied him for several years. Investigating light and contour in the clearly delineated figures, Degas poses his subjects as trials for transfer to canvas.
Edgar Degas, Young Spartans Exercising, ca. 1860. Oil on canvas. National Gallery, London, Bought, Courtauld Fund, 1924
Marking: Watermark: image of a rampant griffin Studio stamp in red (lower left): degas Verso: inscription: Ph1583
Degas studio sale II, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 6-8, 1918, no. 62b (?); Marius de Zayas, New York; Marius de Zayas sale at Anderson Galleries, New York, March 23, 1923, lot 70; Robert Lehman (acquired by 1942)