At his death in 1916, at the age of ninety-six, Sant was the longest living member of the Royal Academy since the institution's foundation in 1768, having exhibited well over two hundred pictures during a period of seventy-six years. Although he is best known for his society portraits, as a young artist in the 1850s he attempted the history pictures that were then considered the highest form of artistic endeavour. Astronomy, an example shown at the British Institution in 1850, was sold in these Rooms on 5 June 2008 (lot 52), and the present picture must be of about the same date. Both works show a similar sense of dramatic lighting, and the same model seems to appear in each.
Can we talk of a minor vogue at this period for paintings showing women anxiously watching battles? Certainly a very comparable subject by William Gale, An Incursion of the Danes: Saxon Women watching the Conflict, was exhibited at the British Institution in 1855. It appeared in these Rooms on the 12 June 1992, lot 104 (illustrated in catalogue).