A subject from Dante's Purgatorio. Begun in 1868 with Jane as the melancholic model. It wasn't finished until 1881, a year before his death. The symbols in the foreground represent her piety and include her husbands love letters from a happier time. Dante found her in purgatory because she literally pined away after her husband imprissioned her in a castle. The pile of pennants on the left seem to represent the absent cruel husband. Is Rossetti also hinting at Jane imprisioned by her marriage to William ? La Pia fingers the luxurious ring given to her husband, as Jane married for money rather than love.
The grey landscape with its flock of crows reflects in a symbolist way her suffering, but Rossetti also asked Charles Fairfax Murray to make sketches of the drear Maremma swamps (where the castle had said to be located - sw Tuscany) to introduce a note of realism to the picture. The ivy is taken from photographs by another friend Frederic Shields.
The picture was bought by Frederick Richards Leyland for a massive 800gns who hung it in his house alongside Lady Lilith and Veronica Veronese.