Nicolas Trigault modelled in oriental dress for the artist several times and this particular drawing features a relatively modest use of colour plus some notes placed on the right hand side of the subject. To leave writing alongside suggests that this was, indeed, a study drawing and perhaps the notes referred to his learnings from this piece which could be used in a later work.
This drawing is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and they have released a high definition version of it that is a great tool for those looking to understand the techniques used by Peter Paul Rubens within this medium. Indeed, whilst their careers may have been many centuries ago, there are no draughtsmen as skilled in the present day and anyone looking to perfect the art of portrait drawing should study masters such as Rubens, as well as anatomical sketches by Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.
The draped clothing in this piece is beautifully delivered by Rubens who would have spent many years perfecting this challenging element of portraiture. Whilst the focus is always on facial elements of a portrait, producing realistic clothing that hangs believably from the body is also very hard to master. It is also interesting to see how the artist handles a non-native item of clothing, perhaps he would have studied it as first hand prior to setting up this sitting.