'Found' depicts the poignant moment when a young farmer, arriving in London to sell his calf at market, discovers his sweetheart, now a prostitute left destitute on the streets of the metropolis. This painting is the only large-scale example of Rossetti's work to grapple with the principles most relevant to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in its early years. First and foremost, it depicts a scene from contemporary life instead of the cozy pastoral subjects which were then too popular at the annual Royal Academy exhibitions. Secondly, it boldly tackles the devastating social issues resulting from the Industrial Revolution and the accompanying growth of cities in 19th century Britain. Thirdly, it is executed with painstaking attention to detail. The close observation of nature was an important element of the Pre-Raphaelite philosophy and one which was singled out and promoted by the art critic John Ruskin.
Although Rossetti began preliminary studies for Found as early as 1853, and worked at it on and off throughout his life, it was left incomplete at his death. This is particularly apparent in the upper right and distant landscape. As time went on, Rossetti’s style and interests changed. Undoubtedly his inability to complete Found was related to the passage of time and his loss of interest in the concept and style, which were so much a part of his youth.