This drawing used to be attributed to Rossetti, but it is now accepted as being by Burne-Jones at the early period when he was greatly under Rossetti's influence. It can be dated precisely to 1861, the drawings on both recto and verso being studies for watercolours which Burne-Jones executed that year. The study of a reclining woman on the recto is for the figure of Venus in the early version of Laus Veneris (private collection), while the sketches of a heavily draped standing figure and a foot on the reverse are for the Clerk in Clerk Saunders (Tate Gallery, London).
Mrs J.C. Troxell, to whom the drawing once belonged, published the recto as a study of Lizzie Siddal, Rossetti's wife and model, but Mrs Surtees was surely right to identify the sitter as Fanny Cornforth. Although Fanny is best known as one of Rossetti's favourite models in the late 1850s and the 1860s (as well as being his mistress even before Lizzie's death in 1862 and his housekeeper following his subsequent move to 16 Cheyne Walk), she is also known to have sat to Burne-Jones. Certainly Madox Brown records her sitting to Burne-Jones in January 1858 (see F.M. Hueffer, Ford Madox Brown: A Record of his Life and Work, 1896, p. 154), and she seems to have continued to model for him for several years thereafter. A number of studies for Clerk Saunders exist, in the Tate Gallery and elsewhere, and there are studies for the later oil version of Laus Veneris (Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle), exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1878. The drawing on the recto of the present sheet, however, would appear to be the only surviving study for the early watercolour version of this important composition.