Rossetti painted the background of this work outdoors at Sevenoaks, Kent, in 1850, in the company of Holman Hunt. It was originally intended for a large-scale version of Dante meeting Beatrice in Paradise, a watercolour of which is in Manchester’s collection.
He took up the canvas twenty years later by which time his style had become more lyrical. His earlier watercolour may still have been in his mind with its two medieval ‘angels’ playing psalteries in a paradise garden.
Painted after what he called his ‘time of love’ with Jane Morris at Kelmscott Manor, it evokes an undefined feeling of poetic melancholy but was not accompanied by a poem as was usual with many of his major works