Isabella and the Pot of Basil by Edward Reginald Frampton (1872-1923). Tempera on canvas, 18.5 x 20 inches. Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1912, no. 894. Collection: The Maas Gallery. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Commentary from the Maas Gallery catalogue

The subject is from John Keats’ poem of the same name. Isabella, pledged to another man, instead falls for Lorenzo, her brothers’ servant. When her brothers discover their tryst they murder him. Isabella learns of the crime from Lorenzo’s ghost, and exhumes his body to bury his head in the pot of basil, which she spends the rest of her days tending obsessively. Vallance writes, "In the Isabella, the idea which the artist intends to convey is that Isabella, having exalted her devotion to her murdered Lorenzo into a very religion, does not hesitate to set the pot of basil, containing his head, in the most sacred of all places, the very midst of the altar."

Related material: other versions of this subject

The Maas Gallery, London has most generously given its permission to use in the Victorian Web information, images, and text from its catalogues. The copyright on text and images from their catalogues remains, of course, with the Maas Gallery. Readers should consult the gallery website to obtain information about recent exhibitions and to order their catalogues. [GPL]


Pre-Raphaelitism. Exhibition catalogue. London: Maas Gallery, 2013. No. 10.

Vallance, Aylmer. “The Paintings of Reginald Frampton, ROI”, The Studio, 75 (Dec. 1918): 67.

Last modified 27 April 2013