The drawing can be dated to 1861 on grounds of style, and the seated figure on the left is almost certainly a study for the young woman in The Backgammon Players, a large and highly-finished drawing in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which bears this date. A study of the two players, a man and a woman, together was with Hartnoll & Eyre in 1971, and is illustrated in the catalogue of the exhibition of Burne-Jones drawings which they held jointly with the Piccadilly Gallery in June that year, no. 2. The kneeling figure on the right in the present drawing has not been identified but may be a study for a Virgin Annunciate, possibly in stained glass.
The woman in the finished version of The Backgammon Players has the unmistakable features and dark hair of Jane Morris, but a different, blonde, model seems to have sat for both our drawing and the Hartnoll and Eyre study. A possible candidate is D.G. Rossetti's mistress. Fanny Cornforth, who was twenty-six in 1861. True, we tend to think of Fanny as worldly, coarse-grained and sexually generous, but William Michael Rossetti described her as having 'regular and sweet features, and a mass of the most lovely blonde hair, light golden of "harvest yellow"', and it is not impossible that Burne-Jones has transformed her into the innocent, girlish creature we see in these drawings. Moreover, Fanny was undoubtedly sitting for him in 1861, appearing (more appropriately) as the enchantress Nimue in the watercolour Merlin and Nimue (Victoria and Albert Museum, London.)