Lucy Sturgis was born in Boston, 13 March 1833 and her brother John in 1834, probably in Manila, the children of Russell Sturgis of Boston and his second wife Mary Greene Hubbard. Their first child Russell was born in 1831. Lucy was named after Russell Sturgis's first wife, Lucy Lyman Paine, who died at sea whilst in childbirth. Both children grew up in Boston, however in October 1833 Russell Sturgis returned to China. Lucy married Charles Russell Codman and John married his sister Frances Anne Codman.
The present drawing was executed in early 1837 when the children were three and four years old respectively and before Mary Greene Hubbard returned home to Manila, where she died on 6 September 1837.
Patrick Conner mentions the Sturgis family in George Chinnery 1774-1852 Artist of India and the China Coast, Woodbridge, 1993, p. 229; 'The Sturgis family were at the centre of a group of families based in eastern Massachusetts, who were linked by partnership and marriage and whose financial concerns were known as 'the Boston Concern'. They formed a succession of companies specialising in American China trade.' Two portraits in oil of James Perkins Sturgis, who must have been a relative, were exhibited at the Peabody Museum, Salem, U.S.A., 1967, nos. 8 and 10.