The present drawing is a study for the seated female figure central to Leighton's important late painting The Spirit of the Summit, (Auckland City Art Gallery, see L. and R. Ormond, Lord Leighton, Yale, 1975, pl. 161) exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1894, the penultimate year of Leighton's active participation in the summer exhibitions. The drawing provides us with an insight into Leighton's working methods as well as his technical virtuosity. Leighton would make studies of all the principle figures in his paintings, often treating the drapery and the nude model separately in complimentary drawings. The emphasis in the present drawing is on the folds of drapery and their arrangement to indicate the pose and substance of the body.
In his later years Leighton chose as his subject matter full-length pictures of women in roles which allowed him to explore emotional states and representations on the natural world, reflecting the influence of the symbolist painters. The Spirit of the Summit depicts a seated figure resting on a rocky pinnacle against a backdrop of snow topped mountains and a night sky. It has been suggested that there is an autobiographical significance to these later paintings.
Leighton depicts his own feelings of isolation and meditates on his own mortality.