Possibly a study for one of the series of seven canvases illustrating 'The Story of St George' for the dining room of the artist Myles Birket Foster, at Witley, Surrey.
This could also possibly be a study for the head of one of the king's attendants in the third installment of the St. George Series, 'Moritura: The Princess Draws the Lot'. It appears identical to the male figure in the bottom left of the final painting in oil (Hanover College, Indiana), whose head is seen framed between two of the back legs of an altar.
Or it may be a study of head of the poet Dante. Burne-Jones relished the challenge inherent in every technique of draughtsmanship, and on occasion produced a finished 'presentation' drawing in this style of soft chalk on fairly heavy paper, which gives a rich grainy texture to shadows and background.