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Rossetti's inspiration for this watercolour was the thirteenth-century French poem of the same name, which is a complex allegory about love and loss. The picture's shallow depth, and its rich decoration, are clearly inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts, which Rossetti was viewing in the British Museum and elsewhere. The rapt, embracing couple are typical of Rossetti's work at this time, their union blessed by the sweep of the angel's wing. The watercolour derived from an earlier design for the frontispiece of Rossetti's Early Italian Poets, a collection of his translations.

August 2004