Four of the drawings on this sheet are studies for oil paintings representing the cardinal virtues, which Thornhill painted for the ceiling of the Aldermen's Court Room, Guildhall (1724-7). Art and Commerce, appears not to have been used. The ceiling consisted of a central canvas depicting the personification of London, Civic Wisdom represented by Pallas Athene, which was flanked in the corners by smaller canvases of putti representing the cardinal virtues Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude (see V. Knight, High Art at Guildhall, Thornhill, Rigaud and the City Corporation, exhibition catalogue, 1984).
Thornhill seems to have given his services free and in April 1727 the Court instructed the Chamberlain to give the Lord Mayor 200 guineas 'to be by His Lordship disposed of in plate or otherwise as His Lordship shall think proper to be presented to Sir James Thornhill, Knt. as the gift of his work for his paintings in the Council Chamber'. On 24 June 1727 Thornhill was presented with a gold cup costing £225.7 s.
The Chamber was demolished in 1908 but engravings show the heavy Baroque ceiling and the positioning of the canvases. The five paintings were saved and are now in the Guildhall Art Gallery (see Manners and Morals, Hogarth and British Painting 1700-1760, The Tate Gallery, exhibition catalogue, 1988, pp.57-59). A drawing by Thornhill entitled The Triumph of Queen Anne was sold in Christie's London, 3 July 1996, lot 15 (£8,050).