This drawing was a preparatory study for a figure in a large painting showing the Doge (leader) of Venice giving thanks to the Virgin Mary for victory in the naval Battle of Lepanto (1571). The battle was between the Turks of the Ottoman Empire and the coalition of the Holy League, which consisted of Venice, Spain, Naples and the Papal States among others. This Christian fleet defeated the Turks, and The Holy League claimed their victory was due to the Virgin Mary asking God to secure their victory. So great was the thanks given to the Virgin following the triumph that Pope Pius V declared a new Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Victory. This reverence of the Virgin is reflected in the finished painting for which Palma made this sketch.