This drapery study of a jester's hood is for Brown's painting 'Chaucer at the Court of Edward III' (1851, oil on canvas, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney) which was initially the central panel of the unfinished triptych 'The Seeds and Fruits of English Poetry.' A jester appears in the second of the two early compositional studies in the Birmingham collection (1906P681). In this study and in the oil sketch for the triptych at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the jester is at the front of the composition. However, in the final version he is less prominent, seated on the right behind Froissart and Gower. This study is for the later position of the jester although in the painting he does not hold a pole but a jester's staff.
From Brown's diary we know that he made the jester's hood himself. On 22 October 1847 he records that he, 'painted in the kings cloak (study), workwoman came set her to make the gown for Chaucer myself made ears for the jester's hood & began a drawing of it.' He continued this drawing for the next two days, each day noting that he 'drew a little at the jester's hood' (Virginia Surtees, ed., 'The Diary of Ford Madox Brown,' p. 11). This study is most likely to be the one he refers to in his diary.