The artist used two different tones of red chalk in order to complete this artwork and most likely would have put in the lighter tone first before adding the darker contrast in areas of the composition that he felt were most significant.
Whilst holding a clear symbolic message there is no literary source that we can confidently connect to this work. Most of Michelangelo's drawings follow religious themes or portray figures of his time but this fits into neither category, with question marks over the theme still in existence. What is clear, however, is that the artistic merit of this drawing is beyond question and a fine example of Renaissance draughtsmanship.
There is an intimacy to many of these drawings which illustrates how Michelangelo was producing the majority of them as gifts to others, often very close friends. They would later be reproduced in many formats but this should not distinguish the impact of the original present. There is plenty of documentation remaining that describes the receipient's joy and humbleness after receiving such a beautiful item.
This particular drawing is part of the Royal Collection in Windsor Castle, UK. The British Royal family have built up quite an impressive collection of sketches from the Renaissance and Baroque period and make a strong effort to display these to the public on a permanent basis. Visitors to the stunning location can also take the time to enjoy their extended gardens.