Drawing from life, Giorgio Vasari made this study for a figure of an armed ringleader representing a Florentine neighborhood in a ceiling painting. In the final painting, the figure's odd gestures are understandable: he tugs on his beard and rests his arm on his sword. Vasari left the crossed leg somewhat indistinct because he knew that a shield would mask the leg in the painting; he may not yet have decided on the pose of the head when he made this drawing. The brief drapery study at the upper right seems to relate to the cloth covering the figure's upper arm in the painting.
The painted figure, one of the thirty-nine paintings in Vasari's decorative scheme, occupies a roundel at the west end of a vast coffered ceiling in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. Illustrating the city's triumphant battles against Pisa and Siena, the painting celebrated Florentine power in Tuscany.