Charles Altomont Doyle was the brother of the artist Richard Doyle and the father of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle was a civil servant by profession but also worked as an illustrator. In his early 40s his health began to deteriorate; this is usually attributed to a combination of alcoholism and depression complicated by the onset of epilepsy. From the late 1870s he was institutionalised, but he continued to paint, and it is often thought that his most notable work was produced in this period. The majority of his works, such as the present watercolour, were fantasy scenes, often with macabre or sinister overtones.