As with many of his paintings, the subjects would typically be slim, pale skinned young women and we see precisely that here. He would build up a selection of his favourite models and use them again and again. One can also recognise some of these beautiful women across different artworks and mediums. Waterhouse understood that in order to perfect his understanding and technical abilities within this challenging genre, he would have to practice regularly, just as the great Italian masters of the Renaissance had done many centuries earlier - see Raphael and Michelangelo drawings as examples of this. Waterhouse himself did start to receive criticism about the lack of variety in his drawing style, in that most models would become morphed into his idealised view of beauty, but no-one could ever deny his technical brilliance, which essentially created a signature look which made his drawings instantly recognisable.
Many of the artist's drawings were auctioned off in batches in the early 20th century, mostly to private collectors. This has made it much harder to document his work in this medium to a comprehensive level, but records do exist from the auction itself and that provides the best survey of what was sold. This study drawing is listed as having been completed in the year 1900 using only red chalk. It is 19cm tall and 14.5cm wide, suggesting that it was likely produced within one of his sketchbooks and then later removed and sold seperately. The young brunette stares off into the distance to our right, and she is dressed in a simple dress which is typical of the fashion of that era. Her hair is up, with flowers inserted carefully to add some aesthetic interest. Her face is pretty, with soft feminine features and her skin is pale and her build very slim. This was considered very much the picture of beauty at the time and Waterhouse consistently chose models who fitted this criteria, with only the hair colour being the one variable which altered from one subject to the next.
Waterhouse was a highly significant British artist whose style appears to be as popular today as it ever has been. His content of beautiful women within romantic settings seems to appeal to many of us within the modern world, where one's innocence has been replaced by a faster paced society. There has been a rise in support for the Pre-Raphaelite movement more generally, and some of Waterhouse's high profile paintings, such as Lady of Shalott, Boreas and Circe Invidiosa have helped him to remain very much a part of that conversation. Although he received criticism at the time from some for not being bold or innovative enough, he is today simply judged on the quality of each artwork without that same context. He is rightly considered a highly gifted portrait painter and draughtsman who helped to establish the UK as a major art nation having followed in the shadows of France and Italy for so long.