This represents a vision that Gleyre experienced on the evening of March 1, 1835, while relaxing on the banks of the Nile. The ageing poet watches with an air of melacholia as the launch sails away with his youthful dreams and illusions, represented by maidens singing, playing music and reading poetry accompanied by Cupid scattering petals onto the water. In 1843, Gleyre succeeded Paul Delaroche as the head of his studio in Paris. His pupils included such diverse figures as Jean-Léon Gérôme, Alfred Sisley, Auguste Renoir, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler. It is known that Gleyre was commissioned to do a number of versions of this work, notably one for William Walters (now in the Walters Museum, Baltimore) through the Parisian art dealers Goupil & Cie. This painting looks to be from the period that these works would have been executed.