The subject is inspired by the poetry of Fazio degli Uberti (1326-1360), addressing his Lady, Agniola of Verona, which Rossetti had included in his Early Italian Poets in 1861. Fazio's description of his mistress's beauty (as translated by Rossetti) conforms extremely closely to Rossetti's image, for which he used his own mistress, Fanny Cornforth, as model:
I look at the amorous beautiful mouth,
The spacious forehead which her locks enclose,
The small white teeth, the straight and shapely nose,
And the clear brows of a sweet pencilling.
I look at her white easy neck, so well
From shoulders and from bosom lifted out;
And her round cleft chin, which beyond doubt
No fancy in the world could have design'd.