This picture is typical of the sentimental subject matter favoured by some Victorian artists. When it was exhibited in 1859 it was accompanied by a quotation from Tennyson's poem 'Come not when I am dead':
- If it were thine error or thy crime
I care no longer, being all unblest;
Wed whom thou wilt, but I am sick of time;
And I desire to rest.
The woman on the left of the picture is dying of consumption and a broken heart. Her errant lover has returned to her side, but too late for them to enjoy any time together. She appears delicate and drawn and supports herself with a stick; all she desires is death and a release from her illness. Windus emphasises the woman's unhealthy appearance by contrasting her pale clothes, lank hair and pinched features with those of her ringletted, rosy-cheeked companion. She is clearly agitated by the appearance of her lover, who hides his face in shame, symbolising his deceit…