The present drawing is not in good condition: stains, cracks, holes and missing parts testify to extensive use of the sheet - as does the squaring. Both indicate that the drawing served as a model for a transfer into a large-format painting or fresco.
Depicted is The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, a scene from the childhood of the mother of Jesus: at the age of three, Mary is presented to the high priest of the temple of Jerusalem. Accompanied by her parents Anna and Joachim, she climbs the steps alone to place herself in the care of the priest.
The central perspective composition shows the scene in a barrel-vaulted vestibule. Two cornices supported by composite columns draw the viewer's gaze into the depths of the pictorial space. In the foreground, below and to the sides of this view, the figurative staff is grouped. On the left, the high priest is receiving Mary, who is offering him a long, thin candle. The 15 steps that Mary climbs, according to written tradition, have been omitted. Anna and Joachim, who are depicted at an advanced age, dismiss their little girl trustingly and with demonstratively outstretched arms. The scene is accompanied by temple servants, visitors and merchants who are attentively following the events.
An older passe-partout note attributes the print to the Italian painter and printmaker Francesco Mazzola called Parmigianino (1503–1540). Here, Federico Zuccari (c. 1540–1609) from central Italy, two generations younger, is suggested as the author: The drawing lines, composition, physiognomies and motivic details known from other works (cf. the preparatory drawings and surviving paintings for the decoration of the Cappella Grimani in S. Francesco della Vigna in Venice, 1566) speak for a creation by his hand in the 60s of the 16th century.