This imaginary encounter at cards between Catherine of Aragon, seated to the left, and Anne Boleyn, flourishing the Queen of Hearts, is remarkable for the quality of its detail, and for the imagination with which the Queen's apartments are described. The wife, and paramour of King Henry VIII are seated against a backdrop illustrating the story of two other famous lovers, Anthony and Cleopatra. Anne Boleyn is seated in front of a personification of Ambition, helpfully labelled 'Ambitio'.
The picture is typical of the first phase of Egley's career, which lasted from 1843 to 1855, in which he principally depicted scenes from Molière and Shakespeare. From 1855 his friendship with William Powell Frith led him to depict contemporary scenes, such as Omnibus Life in London (1859) now in Tate Britain, and one of the most famous of all Victorian pictures.
This picture, identified as Katharine of Arragon (sic) in Egley's diaires, is mentioned in several entries between November 1851 and 6 April 1852. The last entry for example reads, paints 'floor, stool, dogs (?), steps, doorway, distance behind it, curtains, tablecloth, cards and money, and various little matters in different parts of the picture. Worked from 9am till 7pm.'