This picture is based on an ancient Scottish ballad. The King of Scotland asks Sir Patrick Spens, the best sailor in the land, to sail him to Norway to fetch back his daughter. But on the return the ship is lost in a great storm, and the King, his court, and all aboard perish. In Scotland their wives and families look in vain for the ship's sail, realising what has happened, and this is the moment Siddall shows. The figure on the right appears to be a self-portrait. Siddall was greatly interested in poetry and wrote poems herself.