According to ancient legend, Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos of Crete, fell in love with the Greek hero Theseus and helped him defeat the Minotaur in her father's Labyrinth. In gratitude, Theseus promised to marry her and together they fled to the island of Naxos. Theseus soon grew tired of Ariadne, however, and abandoned her while she slept, sailing home to Athens. In the present painting--which likely was originally incorporated into a piece of furniture--the abandoned princess is seen in the background, tearing at her breast and wailing in sorrow she watches Theseus sail away with his new lover. Ignoring her, Theseus happily gestures toward the opposite shore. According to the legend, Theseus's mistreatment of Ariadne did not go unpunished: in his haste to depart from Naxos, he forgot the promise that he had made to his father before he embarked on his adventure: if he was successful, he would replace his ship's black sails with white ones. Upon seeing his son's ship returning with the black sails unfurled, Theseus's father was filled with despair and cast himself into the sea.