This drawing has usually been titled 'The Wise Virgins' after the New Testament parable of the ten wise and foolish virgins. However, because it is related to another Stothard drawing showing a composition of seven figures there is no reason to believe that this is the subject. Stothard was close to the artists John Flaxman, Henry Fuseli and William Blake. This drawing, with its dynamic use of outline in pen and ink and grey washes to define light and shade is typical of a style used in their circle. Stothard believed in the strength of such a technique where there were no 'fine colours to compensate for the want of energy'.
Gallery label, September 2004