The left-hand panel of Poole's triptych shows Ferdinand declaring his love to Miranda. It diverts from the preparatory sketch (lot 227). Assuming that the study pre-dated Poole's 1849 Academy exhibit, this suggests our version's status as attendant to the 1856 central panel (lot 225). Its quality is similarly high, and where Poole's composition does differ from the sketch, it appears to have evolved - being simpler and more elegant.
Many artists who depicted The Tempest chose to portray the lovers, for example Henry Anelay in his watercolour of 1852. They embody the perfect sympathy between two pure characters who meet within a milieu of magic and corruption.
The scene is particularly powerful in its juxtaposition of characters that are physically close but self-absorbed, seemingly unaware of their relations to each other. Beside the couple, who are transfixed by mutual love - Miranda modestly shying from Ferdinand's gaze - we see a vigilant Prospero. His narrow form almost merges into rockface, as his magical presence has the capacity to influence nature and elements. With his fingers resting on his mouth, he seems deep in thought, though like the convergent hands of a clock, it is from him that the play's events originate and return.
Behind Prospero we see Caliban climbing a steep path, bearing wood. His pose is representative of his wider role as Prospero's slave. Though his face is hidden, the heavy hair and pugnacious features have great impact. Caliban appears to be half-man, half primaeval being; his body sprung with grass-like hair. His identity is weighed by the earthliness of his own make-up, and accordingly Poole shows him bowed. Caliban represents the mortal part of man in Shakespeare's play, whilst the rapid Ariel embodies man's aspiring, God-fearing, spirit life.