A student in Naples of Francesco Solimena, Conca moved to Rome around 1706. There, he absorbed the classicising models of Raphael, Michelangelo and the Carracci, and developed a lyrical style indebted to Carlo Maratti. As a painter, Conca enjoyed great success in Rome for the next four decades; as founder of the Accademia del Nudo in 1710, his teaching influenced such young artists as Pompeo Batoni and Anton Mengs, reaching thus into the first generation of Neoclassicists.
Conca returned frequently to his birthplace in The Marches in central Italy. This chalk study is related to a 1741 altarpiece in the Madonna della Misericordia Basilica in Macerata, a regional centre.