The artist, a romantic painter, was inspired by a ballad written by German author Gottfried August Bürger around 1770. Stendhal, Victor Hugo and Gérard de Nerval would also popularize the poem through their adaptations. In the poem, it is 1763 and the end of the Seven Years' War, and Lenore is waiting for her fiancé. He appears in the night on a black horse, promising to marry her before dawn. But upon arriving at the cemetery, the horse rider is revealed to be a skeleton wearing armor. The story is a fantastical ride of two lovers between the worlds of the living and the dead.