In Shakespeare’s tale of Romeo and Juliet he told us a story of a young love so strong that the lovers preferred being together in death to living apart.
Here Sir Frank Dicksee catches them at the moment of parting. It is the morning after consummating their marriage, the last moment they will be together alive. To celebrate that moment he showed them to us young and vital, full of love and longing, lingering at that moment just before Romeo leaves. With every detail he engages our sympathies for the doomed pair.
The painting is haunted by what we know will come. Love will survive, but they will not. And yet they will linger in our minds much as they are pictured here – as young, passionate and in love. Unlike us, they will never grow old.