This is the first work Millais painted as a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Lorenzo and Isabella is based on Keats’ poem Isabella, or, the Pot of Basil. I’ve touched on the poem briefly in this post about William Holman Hunt’s painting of the same subject. Basically, Isabella and Lorenzo fall in love. Her brothers kill Lorenzo. After searching for and finding his body, Isabella buries his head under a plant of Basil. See Love, Death, and Potted Plants.
As the Pre-Raphaelites often did, they used each other as models:
Dante Gabriel Rossetti: man drinking from a glass at the end of the table on the right side
William Michael Rossetti: Lorenzo
Walter Deverell: brother
F.G. Stephens: brother
The brother kicking the dog is said to be a bully from the artist’s school days, painted from memory.
Lorenzo and Isabella at The Earthly Paradise
Lorenzo and Isabella at Liverpool Museums
John Millais: Lorenzo and Isabella at Pre-Raphaelite Art
For gardening enthusiasts: Isabella and the Pot of Basil at GardenGuides.com
The complete poem at john-keats.com
3 thoughts on “Lorenzo and Isabella”
Always loved this painting and considering how young he was at the time – amazing.
As with all of Millais’ paintings, I’m in love with all the little details in this work! The textiles are just fabulous. Ever notice that the nasty brother kicking the dog is also about to squish another dog under the leg of his chair? A very unpleasant fellow.