‘The Decameron’ is a collection of 100 tales by the 14th-century Italian author, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 - 1375). A group of seven young women and three men have fled to the countryside to escape the plague in Florence in 1348. They amused themselves by each reciting one story a day for ten days, and Waterhouse shows the group seated together on the grass telling their tales. The word 'decameron' combines the Greek words for ‘ten’ and ‘day’. Each day one member of the party led the group and was given a crown to signify his or her authority.