The magnificent drawing, showing Poynter's academic approach at its best, is a composition study for one of his murals in St Stephen's Church, College Road, Dulwich. The church, by Banks and Barry, was begun in 1868, and Poynter's murals were carried out 1872-3. The scheme inspired some of his finest drawings, three other examples being illustrated in Malcolm Bell, The Drawings of Sir E.J. Poynter, 1905, pls. 5, 6 and 8. These, however, are only head or single figure studies, and lack the range and power of the present drawing.
The St Stephen mural is in true fresco and is one of the very few works to be successfully carried out in this exacting technique in England. Poynter was presumably related to one of the church's architects, being the great-grandson of Thomas Banks, the sculptor