The drawings are related to the vignette designed and engraved by Blake for the cover of Thomas Commins's An Elegy, with musical accompaniment, published in 1786 (repr. Easson and Essick, op. cit, no. II pl. 1, Butlin 1981, op. cit, pl. 103, and Butlin 1992, op. cit., pl. 1), and also to another hitherto unpublished sheet of drawings for the composition in a private collection in the USA (repr. Butlin 1992, pls. 2 and 3). The engraved vignette accompanies the lines from An Elegy reading,
The shatter'd bark from adverse winds
Rest in this peaceful haven finds
And when the storms of life are past
Hope drops her anchor here at last
In the words accompanying the musical setting 'haven' in the second line is replace by 'heaven'.
The pen and wash drawing on the recto is a more finished version, in reverse, of the recto of the drawing in the USA; the old man getting out of the boat is greeted by two cloud-borne angels rather than by two angels standing on the ground in front of a group of trees. On the verso, in pencil, the main drawing on the left is a version of the pen and wash drawing on the verso of the sheet in the USA and shows a young man rowing his boat towards the shore on which stand two angels absent in the pen and wash drawing. Further to the right, also in pencil but slightly larger in scale, with a smaller variant below, is a sketch of a stooping figure with arms held down close together; This, perhaps a reminiscence of the two figures pulling in nets in Raphael's tapestry cartoon of The Miraculous Draft of Fishes, could represent a figure leaning down to secure the boat in the main composition; alternatively it could represent a completely different project such as the figure of Simeon in Blake's watercolour of Joseph ordering Simeon to be bound, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1785 (Butlin 1981, pp. 59 and 60 nos. 156 and 158, repr. pls. 184 and 186).
On the left of the verso, also in pencil but to be seen with the paper the other way up, is a more roughly drawn sketch in an oval border that corresponds to the final engraving for Commins's Elegy, with a young man leaping from his boat to be greeted by his wife and child. This sheet thus bears drawings for all three main approaches to the illustration of Commins's verses, and also three different degrees of finish as Blake developed his compositions.
The work belonging to Messrs. Robson's in 1913 is only know from its title but is more likely to have been this example than that in the USA which seems to have been there since 1895 (see Butlin 1992, pl. 23)