Sandys made a group of tracings from illustrations in Camille Bonnard's 'Costumes des XIII, XIV, et XV Siecles,' also known as Bonnard's 'Costume Historique,' first published in Paris between 1829-30. The book comprised of over two hundred plates, engraved by Paul Mercuri, depicting courtiers, clerics and famous figures from the middle ages accompanied by information written by Bonnard. In the mid-nineteenth 'Costume Historique' was known as one of the best sources for British artists and costume designers. The high level of finish and detail found in the book meant it had a strong reputation among the Pre-Raphaelites. Several of their works included figures in costumes taken from 'Costume Historique' and around 1849 Dante Gabriel Rossetti bought a black and white copy. The book was hugely expensive and it seems as if most artists relied on copies in libraries in institutions such as the British Museum and the Royal Academy.
Betty Elzea suggests that in the 1850s Sandys was 'making a reference collection by copying or tracing a great variety of details for future use' although she notes 'I have not found evidence that [he] made direct use of any of these tracings in his paintings and drawings' ('Frederick Sandys 1829-1904: A Catalogue Raisonné,' pp. 141-142). The Birmingham collection holds many of these tracings as well as three sheets of costumes sketches on tracing paper copied from 'Costume Historique' by Ford Madox Brown in the mid 1840s (see 1906P737, 1906P738 and 1906P739). See 1906P1037-1065.