Waterhouse studied at the Royal Academy Schools in the 1870s; the early works he produced were of a classical style and were heavily influenced by artists such as Leighton and Alma-Tadema. He made several trips to Italy where he found inspiration for his paintings and began to produce large canvases using classical compositions and the Pre-Raphaelite concepts of beautiful women who were ultimately tragic or powerful.
He was active several decades after the break-up of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which had seen its heyday in the mid-nineteenth century, leading him to be known as "the modern Pre-Raphaelite". Borrowing stylistic influences not only from the earlier Pre-Raphaelites but also from his contemporaries, the Impressionists, his artworks were known for their depictions of women from both ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.
Thisbe depicts a scene from one of Waterhouse’s favourite sources, Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In Book IV, the Roman author sets his story in ancient Babylon, where the maiden Thisbe falls in love with her neighbour, Pyramus. Their parents forbid the relationship, forcing them to exchange vows of fidelity through a crack in the wall shared by their families’ houses. The couple decide to elope with tragic consequences; agreeing to meet at Ninus's tomb, Thisbe arrives first, but flees when she sees a lioness approaching. Pyramus subsequently arrives and finds the tracks of a lioness and Thisbe’s shawl. Believing that Thisbe is dead, Pyramus thrusts his sword into his belly, killing himself. Thisbe returns, sees what has happened, and also kills herself, their blood reddening the fruit of the white mulberry bush at which they were to meet; hence mulberries acquire their distinctive hue in perpetuity.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-873: card size 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)