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This painting was the last major work that Burne-Jones completed. The idea of the God of Love guiding a Pilgrim on his quest comes from The Romaunt of the Rose by the medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer, a book that Burne-Jones had read while a student at Oxford. Though not an illustration of a particular episode in the story, the figure of Love is based on Chaucer's description:

And also on his heed was set

Of roses rede a chapelet.

But nightingales, a ful gret route,

That flyen over his heed aboute.

September 2004