Isabella and the Pot of Basil
Oil, G Grenville Manton, 1919
‘She weeps alone for pleasure not to be’
This seemingly serene painting in the Pre- Raphaelite style shows the scene of what is actually a very morbid story. The story, told in the poem by John Keats, goes that Isabella was in love with a servant, Lorenzo. Isabella’s brothers disapproved of her choice of lover, and lured Lorenzo into the woods to kill him. Learning of Lorenzo’s death, Isabella is beside herself with grief – she finds his body and buries her murdered lover’s head in a pot of basil, which she waters with her tears until she dies of a broken heart.