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In this painting Hughes illustrates the last verse of Elizabeth Barret Browning's poem 'A Court Lady', the final line of which is inscribed on the frame. He began work on the picture soon after the poem was first published in 1860. The poem concerns a beautiful young woman who visits injured and dying soldiers dressed in her finest court wear, that normally reserved for audiences with the King. Instead of a death scene of 'fervid impassioned exclamation', Hughes set out to paint 'the quiet moment that must have followed it'. The picture was commissioned by Ellen Heaton, who also owned Hughes's painting 'Aurora Leigh's Dismissal of Romney' (on display in this gallery).

September 2004