The wealthy Florentine merchant brothers opposed the love of their poor apprentice Lorenzo for their sister Isabella. The brothers later murdered Lorenzo but Isabella found his body, cut off the head and buried it in a pot of basil. The story is from a poem by John Keats, based on the 14th century Italian writer Boccaccio. Keats’s rich medieval imagery made him a favourite poet of the Pre-Raphaelites. This was Millais’ first painting in the new, sharply detailed Pre-Raphaelite style. The bright colour, the flattening of the picture space and the deliberate stiffness and angularity of the figures were all features taken from early Italian painting. The story is told through clear gestures and facial expressions, but Millais has also included symbolic details such as the hawk tearing at a feather, the blood orange given to Isabella and the passion flower above her head.