This drawing belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Alexander Munro, with whom Hughes shared a studio in London from 1852 to 1858.
Hughes originally planned 'The Long Engagement' as a scene from 'As you like It'. Dissatisfied with the single figure of Orlando and with the Shakespearian subject, Hughes abandoned the idea and devised a two-figure composition of 'modern lovers'. In this study the young man can just be seen emerging from the shadow of the tree. This sketch also reveals that Hughes had initially thought of using a different pose for the figure of the young woman. Here, she is shown overcome with emotion, her head hung down and her left hand touching her throat. In the final painting she looks up at her lover clutching his hand between hers.
Leonard Roberts suggests that the sketch on the verso of a woman reclining on a sofa 'almost certainly [depicts] Christina Rossetti' ('Arthur Hughes: His Life and Works,' p. 128).