Hunt was influenced by the early volumes of John Ruskin’s Modern Painters. His art was a truthful depiction of nature infused with moral purpose. He made many trips to the Holy Land to paint religious subjects.
In 1866 Hunt travelled to Palestine with his wife Fanny. The couple were detained in Florence, and Fanny died shortly after giving birth to their son Cyril. Hunt returned to Italy in 1869 to complete the design for her tomb. He stayed with an English friend at Fiesole and painted two portraits of the gardener’s children, of which this is one. A dove rests on the girl’s shoulder, symbolic of her dove-like gentleness and innocence.