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The harlot, who we learn from the letter in the drawer is named M[ary] Hackabout (slang for prostitute), is living in reduced circumstances, having lost her wealthy protector. She examines a watch, likely stolen from a client of the previous night. She is accosted by bailiffs led by a magistrate recognizable as Sir John Gonson, a crusader against prostitution in London.
William George Sullivan; given to the John Herron Art Institute, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art, in 1930.