The inspiration for this painting was Thomas Malory's 'Morte d'Arthur' (1485), in which Guinevere's adulterous love for Sir Lancelot is one of the central themes. The model is Jane Burden who became Morris's wife in 1859, and also appears in Rossetti's 'Proserpine' displayed nearby. She was 'discovered' by Morris and Rossetti when they were working together on the Oxford Union murals, the subject matter for which was also taken from Malory. The painting is essentially a portrait of her in medieval dress. It is a splendid expresion of the intense medieval style prevailing in Rossetti's circle in the late 1850s, with its emphasis on pattern and historical detail. This is Morris's only completed oil painting.