A Maas Gallery label on the reverse identifies this drawing as a study for Idyll, Leighton's Royal Academy picture of 1881 to which lot 165 undoubtedly relates. However, the pipe-playing male figure in Idyll is in a quite different pose, being seated on the ground and seen from behind, facing three-quarters to the left.
The present drawing is most likely to be associated with a work that has many affinities with Idyll, namely the frieze symbolising 'Music' (one of a pair, the other celebrating 'Dance') that Leighton painted in the 1880s for the drawing-room of the London home of the banker James Stewart Hodgson, situated in South Audley Street, Mayfair. The friezes are now at Leighton House, but more relevant here is a study, also in the Leighton House collection, that is illustrated in Mrs Russell Barrington's Life, Letters and Work of Frederic Leighton, London, 1906, I, facing p. 234. Made for a portion of the 'Music' frieze that was 'not carried out in the final design', the drawing represents a nymph and a winged putto listening to a seated male figure playing a pipe. He is seen in the reverse direction to the right-hand figure in our study, but there can be little doubt that both drawings were made for the frieze when the composition was still at a provisional stage.