The present work is a study for the 'heroic picture of Lord Roberts', dateable to 1893-1895, in the Tate Gallery (no. 4611). The Tate picture was painted in Furse's studio at 33, Tite Street, Chelsea and was described as 'a tour de force. Even in its unfinished state it is a great work...'.
Lord Roberts (1832-1914), who was made a Field-Marshal in 1895, is seen mounted on his favourite charger 'Saracen'. 'Bobs', as he was affectionately known by his troops, was one of the leading military figures of the day and distinguished himself in the Relief of Lucknow in 1858, at Kandahar in 1880 and in the South African War 1899-1901.
Dame Katharine Furse, the artist's widow, observed that the composition was partly borrowed from Velazquez's Surrender of Breda, (see K. Furse, Hearts and Pomegranates, 1940, p. 251). Furse was lecturing on Velazquez for the Oxford Extension Society in 1894.