The subject comes from Dante's 'Inferno'(V, 122-3). Francesca, engaged to be married against her will, falls in love with her fiance's younger brother Paola. When this is discovered, they are murdered. The sculpture shows the moment when, reading of the love of Lancelot for Guinevere, they are drawn to their first kiss.
The plaster model for this sculpture was shown in the 1851 Great Exhibition (Sculpture Court no41). This marble version was commissioned by William Gladstone (1809-98), later Prime Minster.
Munro gave a plaster cast of this work to Dante Gabriel Rossett. The subject relates to a series of drawings done by Rossetti that year. A plaster version is in the collection of Wallington House, Northumberland.