John Everett Millais - Lorenzo and Isabella
A scene from John Keats' poem 'Isabella', painted in medieval inspired style. Isabella sits at the dining table beside her lover Lorenzo, who looks on her intensely, and opposite her brothers. A lurcher stands with its head in her lap. The brothers wear red while Isabella wears silver. The brother who sits opposite has his leg outstretched across the foreground of the painting with his toes touching the lurcher.


"...Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel! 

Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love’s eye! 

They could not in the self-same mansion dwell 

Without some stir of heart, some malady; 

They could not sit at meals but feel how well 

It soothed each to be the other by; 

They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep 

But to each other dream, and nightly weep..."

Oil on canvas

154.3 x 117.8 cm

Millais’ Isabella (1848-49) was one of the first works produced after the formation of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood, and the first to bear the PRB signature. With its vibrant colours, sharp lines, and borrowed but reworked medieval style, this painting acted as a manifesto. 

Millais' painting depicts a scene from John Keats' poem Isabellaor Pot of Basil (1820). The narrative of the poem is encapsulated within this one scene. The sexual tension between Lorenzo and Isabella is rivalled by the aggressive gazes of the brothers. The pot of basil Lorenzo’s head would ultimately sit in looms behind the lovers, in the eye line of the brothers. Every facet of the poem has been adapted into this bright, complex scene.

Associated Place(s)


  • John Everett Millais

Image Date: 

circa. 1848