Leighton was the most eminent of all artists working during Queen Victoria's reign. He trained in Germany and Paris. One result of this training was the importance he attached to making preliminary drawings for any composition he painted in oils. This drawing is a study for the head of Elijah in Leighton's 1863 Royal Academy exhibit 'Jezebel and Ahab' which is now in Scarborough Art Gallery. The model was Leighton's friend the actress Fanny Kemble. The use of a woman to pose for a male figure seems unusual, but the drawing would have been used by Leighton to set a male model when he stood for the figure of 'Elijah' for the painting.
Gallery label, September 2004