Notes in ink on back of drawing: A Portrait of the King / A Portrait of Master Pretyman in the Character of a shepards Boy -- / A Portrait of Miss Ormeby Followed by notation in pencil: Autg of Gainsborough
A nude, muscular man, seen from behind, leans upon his left leg, which is propped on a rock. He grasps a stick for support with his left hand, while bending his torso to the right and looking downward. The lighting and colors vaguely suggest an outdoor environment.
By producing such finely painted studies of nudes, Ubaldo and Gaetano Gandolfi, the leading artists of eighteenth-century Bologna, perfected their skills at representing human anatomy. The brothers and their followers produced many similar paintings and numerous drawn studies of nudes as a fundamental part of their artistic training and practice. Here the model holds a complex pose that balances his body in tension. Undoubtedly painted in a studio, the props that the model uses for support are transformed into a rock and a stick while the walls of the studio are dissolved into a hazy outdoor setting.