The woman in this painting is the ancient goddess of love - the Latin title translates as 'Venus, turner of hearts.' She is the sensuous figure who turns men from fidelity with the arrow she holds in her hand ready to pierce hearts. Roses in Rossetti's work nearly always represent love, and these full blown, sensual, densely packed examples are no exception. Rossetti fulfilled his undertaking to paint accurately from nature when painting this piece. He went to some lengths to get real roses and honeysuckle, even borrowing money to pay for them and rejecting any examples that he felt were not of the right quality or at the correct stage of bloom. She stands before a maze of honeysuckle flowers and foliage, to obtain which Rossetti wrote to Mr. Rae that he “lost a whole week, and pounds on pounds,” and it is backed by a dense mass of roses of rich varieties and depths of tone; it is as if—all fresh and blushing in the daylight—she, nearly naked, stood in a wilderness of flowers; her face is that of a woman, young, tender and ardent, but not without the wistfulness of pity which is indicated by the verses.
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