These drawings are studies for figures in 'Corporation Street Birmingham, in March 1914', Southall's fresco on the staircase in the Birmingham Art Gallery (introduction, fig. 1). The fresco was unveiled on 7 June 1916 in the presence of the Lord Mayor, Neville Chamberlain.
The study of a child represents the artist's nephew, Edwin Martin Baker, who appears on the extreme left of the fresco. The two men, seen in the background on the right, are said to be the poet and dramatist John Drinkwater, a close friend of the artist, and Sir Whitworth Wallis, the first Keeper of the Birmingham Art Gallery, who actively promoted the painting of Southall's mural (see the catalogue of the 1980 exhibition, p. 90). For another drawing that may be a study for the mural, see lot 204.