This drawing is almost certainly a study for a picture of the agonised encounter between the Gilaedite warrior Jephthah and the daughter he has inadvertently agreed to sacrifice in return for victory by the children of Israel over the Ammonites. The story is related in the Book of Judges, chapter XI, and was re-told by Tennyson in his poem 'A Dream of Fair Women'. Handel's oratorio Jephthah (1751) was also popular with Victorian audiences.
Rich in strong and conflicting emotions, the story was precisely the kind of theme that appealed to the Pre-Raphaelites. Millais also treated it in a major canvas exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1867 (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff).
Although Siddal never completed a painting of the subject, a number of related studies are recorded. One is in the Birmingham Art Gallery and three are in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. These were included in the Siddal exhibition held at the Ruskin Gallery, Sheffield, in 1991 (nos. 23-26), three being illustrated in the catalogue.