The present red chalk drawing, dated 'Dec. 20. 81’ is the earliest of three known studies for Poynter’s nude bathing subject Diadumenè, a version of which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1884 (Exeter City Museums and Art Gallery). When a larger version was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1885, accusations of indecency were levelled at the painting, resulting in the addition of drapery to the naked figure. Poynter defended his conception by citing prototypes from classical antiquity including Polycletus’ male statue The Diadumenos or 'Fillet binder' and the Esquiline Venus, which had been discovered in 1874. In the finished work the woman’s pose is echoed in a silver statuette in the background, emphasising the picture’s classical influences.
Another study for the figure, dated 'Feb. 13. 82’ was sold in these Rooms on 6 November 1995 (lot 65), and a third, dated '12 June 1884’, is illustrated in M. Bell, The Drawings of Sir E.J. Poynter, 1905, pl. 27.