This delicate drawing in brush and ink originally formed part of a sketchbook. Carl Blechen filled the book with a selection of subjects seen in and around Rome in the spring of 1829, which he visited as part of a tour of Italy lasting nearly a year. The drawing shows the street-facing side of a gabled ossuary, in front of which we see a man in a top hat, his head slumped forward as he sits on a low bench. In his left hand he holds a freshly broken branch, which is placed at the very centre of the composition. Nestled between his legs rests a large dog, whose form merges with that of the man to create a single physical presence. The faces of both the dog and his master are hidden – in stark contrast to the skulls, which are lined up in a regular arrangement, peeking out like cheeky children from behind the grated windows of the ossuary. The drawing creates a profoundly ironic visual constellation, quite casually taking stock of the tension between life and death during a moment of indolence and calm.