Lord Byron (1788–1824), one of the most famous English poets of the romantic period, was a passionate philhellene who personally participated in the struggle for Greek independence. In December 1823, he travelled to Mesolongi and assembled a fighting force of approx. 500 Souliotes, which he funded at his own expense. During his military preparations, he contracted malaria and died on April 19, 1824. The death of this celebrated poet was mourned throughout Europe, but especially in Greece. In Odevaere's glorifying depiction of Byron's deathbed, the poet is surrounded by symbols of ancient art and culture. Even in death, his limp left hand lies on a lyre (the strings of which are broken); his head is crowned with a laurel wreath; and an ancient Greek temple is visible in the background. The sword at the head of the bed symbolizes his own military activities.
Joseph Dionysius Odevaere (1775–1830), Lord Byron on his deathbed, oil on canvas, 166x234,5 cm, ca. 1826; source: Musea Brugge © Lukas-Art in Flanders, photo Hugo Maertens.