Dryads are nymphs of the trees. Their connection with the tree they lived in was so strong, they would die when the tree died.
Purple irises are at her feet, symbolizing the minor Greek goddess Iris. Iris is the messenger of the gods, particularly Zeus and Hera. She is also the personification of the rainbow and, as goddess of sea and sky, provides clouds with water to rain upon the world to nourish plants and trees.
The model for the dryad was Jane Hales, once nursemaid to Evelyn De Morgan’s sister. Hales became one of De Morgan’s favorite models and is seen frequently in her work.