George Frederick Watts was a renowned portrait painter as well as a friend and mentor to the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Cameron photographed Watts frequently and in different guises. Here she cast him in the role of musician with his muse or guiding spirit looking intently over his left shoulder, as though she is "whispering" some artistic encouragement in his ear. He, in turn, looks down upon the figure of the child on his right, who appears to be entranced by his violin playing.
The violin is the visual focus of the composition and establishes a connection between the visual and performing arts. The concept of "muse" derives from Greek mythology and indicates the influence of classical sources in Cameron's work. On the mount board under this image, her inscription, "a Triumph!," demonstrates the degree to which she felt this photograph captured the relationship of artist and muse.