This is a study for the central figure in the oil Danaë and the Brazen Tower (Glasgow Art Gallery), painted 1887-8 and exhibited at the New Gallery in 1888, no. 54.
Acrisius, King of Argos, was warned by an oracle that the son of his daughter Danaë would slay him. He therefore shut her up in a brazen tower, but Zeus descended on her in a shower of gold and she bore a son, Perseus. The painting shows her watching as the tower is erected. The head of Danaë was modelled by Marie Spartali, but the present drawing would have been made from a professional model or even a lay figure. The technique of black chalk on very soft paper is typical of Burne-Jones in the late 1880s and early 1890s.