The ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho (fl. c. 610 – c. 580 BC) lived mainly on the island of Lesbos and wrote of love in compellingly bitter-sweet verse. Disappointment in love allegedly prompted her to leap to her death from the Leucadian rock. The painting depicts her about to perform this desperate act. Dreber, who never visited Greece, took his cue for the landscape from the rocky coast of the island of Capri.