Bresdin made extensive use of tracing paper, or papier calque, to copy illustrations from books or magazines, a practice he adopted as early as the late 1840’s or early 1850’s, and which provided him with a rich and varied source of motifs to use in his own work. This large drawing was almost certainly copied from one or more illustrations in contemporary fashion magazines. As Aileen Ribeiro has kindly pointed out, the dresses of the women here depicted were in fashion in the late 1870’s or the very early 1880’s, and the drawing may be therefore dated to around this period. As such, this drawing provides important evidence that Bresdin continued to make traced copies from published illustrations in magazines or books well into his later career.
A similar sheet of costume studies, depicting women dressed in medieval or Renaissance dress, is in the collection of the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. Two further studies of elegant women, also on papier calque though less highly-finished than the present drawing, are in the Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam.