The first set of pictures depicting Perrault's story were painted for the patron William Graham between 1871 and 1873 (Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico) but did not include the scene depicting the servant-girls. It was not until the larger set of pictures were begun, probably in 1874, that Burne-Jones conceived the fourth picture as part of the series which was bought by the financier Alexander Henderson and installed in the saloon at his country estate of Buscot Park.
With a penchant for platonic but intense friendships with younger, beautiful women, Burne-Jones often included the likenesses of these muses into his most significant work. The model for the present study and a variant drawing (formerly with Julian Hartnoll) was drawn from another sitter from the fashionable society around Burne-Jones, Miss Ethel Burdet-Burgess (later Mrs Allen, Professor at Madras University).
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