This composition was begun in 1857 but not finished until four years later. The figure of the Virgin may have originally been based on Jane Morris, but the face, as finally realised, was most likely modelled on the artist's fiancée, Georgiana Macdonald. A more finished study for this figure is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
The composition may have proved difficult for Burne-Jones, both compositionally and technically. The impasto is fairly thick in some place, uncharacteristic for him even at this early stage. Several areas have also been patched and reworked, particularly the Angel Gabriel.