These sketches of an auctioneer and a gentleman were probably made from memory, although they are vividly observed. This is inferred from the difficulty of using a pen with an ink bottle in an auction room. The image of the plump, beringed auictioneer has elements of caricature and can be compared with other caricatural drawings dating from the Pre-Raphaelites' student years, such as Rossetti's images of Millais declaring that a work of art was 'slosh' and Hunt agreeing 'of course!'.
The drawing also reminds us that, during those student years, the National Gallery contained only some two hundred paintings. The auction houses played an important part in the visual education of young artists. The most important London auctioneers of works of art in the Victorian period were Christie's so perhaps this drawing is an image of a member of the firm.