Deverell was already very ill when this portrait was made, at around the time of his twenty-sixth birthday in the autumn of 1853. He had contracted Bright's Disease, and did not survive the winter, dying on 2 February 1854. Popular with all the members of the Brotherhood, he maintained a cheerful disposition in spite of considerable adversity: his paintings received little attention, and he inherited heavy family responsibilities on the death of his father in the summer of 1853.
Hunt's drawing captures the vivacity of Deverell's character, almost undimmed by illness, as well as his good looks. William Rossetti thought him: 'one of the handsomest young men I have known; belonging to a type not properly to be termed feminine, but which might be dubbed troubadourish'.