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.