In his autobiography Frith records: 'My first attempt from nature still exists. It consists of a brown jar, a wicker Florentine oil bottle, and an old inkstand'. After spending two years at Henry Sass's School of Art studying drawing, Frith returned to learn how to paint in oils. His delight in the new medium was immediate and before long he announced to Sass that he would 'copy no more' from antique models. Although Sass refused to let him paint a head from nature he did allow him to paint this still life.