The recto side of the sheet contains a preliminary sketch for the layout and frame design for Hughes's 1856 triptych The Eve of St Agnes (Tate Gallery N04604), based on Keats's poem of the same name. Pre-Raphaelite painters paid a great deal of attention to the framing of their pictures. This is the only known record of Hughes's early thoughts on how to present The Eve of St Agnes. It indicates the artist's conception of the picture, in true Pre-Raphaelite spirit, as an object in which frame and picture were one. For the finished triptych, Hughes adopted a more simplified, less architectural, form of framing.

The verso contains a number of sketches relating to an oil painting by Hughes now in the Bristol City Art Gallery, The Guarded Bower of 1866.

Further reading:
Timothy Hilton, The Pre-Raphaelites, London 1970, pp.113-15
Leonard Roberts, introduction by Stephen Wildman, Arthur Hughes: His Life and Works, a Catalogue Raisonné, Woodbridge, Suffolk [to be published 1997]

Terry Riggs
November 1997