This work is a study for the painting: And the Sea Gave Up the Dead Which Were in It, exhibited 1892.
The painting in the Tate Gallery, London, is one of the most dramatic and powerful works, painted in the dark and solemn style of his late career. It was originally designed as one of eight roundels on the theme of the Apocalypse, intended to decorate the spandrels of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The scheme was initiated by Alfred Stevens (1817-75), but was abandoned when the original design was rejected as ‘unsuitable for a Christian church’ (quoted in Wilton & Upstone, p.260). The present, reduced, version was commissioned by Henry Tate, for his new gallery of British art.