When this picture was first exhibited at the Royal Academy it was accompanied by a quotation from Washington Irving's short story 'The Pride of the Village', which was written in 1819:
'A tear trembles in her soft blue eyes. Was she thinking of her faithless lover? Or were her thoughts wandering to that distant churchyard into whose bosom she might soon be gathered?.'
Irving's story told of an only daughter who was 'the pride of the village'. One year she was the May Queen and caught the attention of a young army officer. When his love proved to be false, the girl pined away in her parents' cottage.
Gallery label, March 1993
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