This is the proof for the illustration 'The Boy Martyr' which accompanied a poem of the same name by Walter Thornbury published in 'Once a Week' (vol. 7, 22 November, 1862, p. 602). The poem describes the story of a young Christian forced to fight in a gladitorial contest. Miraculously he wins but refuses to give up his faith and is killed by lions, sent into the ring by the Emperor Nero. Thornbury later reused both illustration and poem in his anthology 'Historical and Legendary Ballads and Songs' (pub. 1876).
A label on the reverse of the proof suggests that between 1891 and 1905, when it belonged to Charles Fairfax Murray, it was exhibited at an RA Winter exhibition.