This study for Burr's 1888 Royal Academy exhibit (lot 337), is slightly different in composition (as opposed to the identical smaller version, lot 338).
Here the blindfolded figure, presumably the grandfather of the children who surround him, is positioned more centrally and faces forwards, extending his arms towards the viewer. A degree more tension is present, as it is in even the most innocent games, because of the way both dog and girl are shadowed by their pursuer's advancing form. The dog watches the old man's face with almost human anticipation; his body poised to spring away. The little girl, in her white pinafore, is much younger than the child with long hair who comprises the foreground figure in the larger painting.
Indeed, the only child who can certainly be identified in both pictures is the older boy, here seated to the left, supporting the clinging form of his baby sister. His long facial features reappear on the figure of the child who stands behind the grandfather's armchair in the larger version.
The children are particularly charming here, particularly the little girl whose hands are placed on the table; her expression is intelligent and animate. Both her near companions have attractive features, the girl seated in the corner seems more placid, suggesting that she is older and wryly bemused by these antics.
Of especial interest is the 'ghost' figure, or pentimenti, of another laughing child to the right of the bonnetted girl. His features are just readable in the surface of the wall. To witness the fluidity of the artist's ideas, in a picture where he was still experimenting, gives a canvas an elusive life force - since it is a stable testament to a time before things were complete, and such processes erased.
The room itself is of a similar kind to its eventual metamorphosis, though different in detail. The diamond-paned window to the left provides an alternative light source to the open door in the Academy picture.
Another intriguing difference is the orientation of the old man's blindfold. Slightly askew, it reveals to us one closed eye, and the artist leaves us to wonder whether this is an honest slip (of two kinds) or a good-natured eluding of the rules.