After training with his father and Antonio Molinari for some years, Piazzetta went to Bologna, where he entered the workshop of Giuseppe Maria Crespi. There he studied the realistic chiaroscuro painting of Caravaggio and the figure ideal of Guercino.
Piazzetta's unusual rendering of a peasant girl is already apparent in the chosen picture format – a transverse oblong. The sleeping girl's face is turned towards the front, and with her low décolleté, the artist emphasises the intimate, wanton character.
Piazzetta found the erotic element in 17th-century Dutch painting.