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In about 1866 Burne-Jones fell passionately in love with Maria Zambaco, a beautiful and volatile sculptress who belonged to the Greek community on London; this love nearly destroyed his marriage and caused him great anguish. Maria sits pensively in the foreground while a faded and elderly Burne-Jones sits in the background, gazing at her. This drawing represents a very personal statement made at the height of Burne-Jones's love affair and was given as a souvenir to Maria Zambaco. When Burne-Jones tried to break with Maria she attempted to commit suicide; in order to escape from an increasingly painful situation, he left for the Continent, accompanied by Morris, early in 1869, but was too ill to travel further than Dover. Eventually the crisis passed and by 1872 the danger to Burne-Jones's marriage was over although a great deal of damage had been done.