This relief is inspired by the romance entitled The Tale of Beryn, a 15th-century addition to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. As an adaptation of the French story Berinus, this English version depicts the complete loss of Beryn’s possessions, who is a compulsive gambler, after a game of chess and the return of his possessions after a pretend trial.
The relief can be attributed to the Victorian sculptor John Lucas Tupper as it is discussed in an essay by J. Barnes and A. Kader 'The Sculpture of John Lucas Tupper' (eds. B. Read and J. Barnes, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture: Nature and Imagination in British Sculpture 1848-1914, London, 1991, pp. 67-68). According to the essay, this relief was installed at St. George's Chess Club, which hosted the first International Chess Tournament in 1851. Barnes also records the comments of William Michael Rosetti: 'We saw Tupper's bas-relief, which the academy rejected. It is illustrative of the Merchant's second tale, by, or ascribed to, Chaucer, and represents the chessplaying between the Merchant and the old man he meets in a strange city. It is ...most conscientiously copied from nature and with good character.'