Ovid describes how Zephyr's brother, Boreas, was smitten by a beautiful woman called Oreithyia. Oreithya rejected Boreas, who later abducted her and married her. Ovid's book is a verse of the Roman calendar that contains all Romanian and Greek mythologies. The calendar also shows the association between the legends and Gods with various seasons of the year. Another source of inspiration for this painting was the trips that Waterhouse made to Italy. He would use classical compositions like Ovid's and mix them with various concepts of beautiful and powerful women that would eventually turn tragic.

Waterhouse is known for adopting a Greek myth style which is also quite evident in this specific painting. According to Greek culture, the story behind the mythology is set in Greece on Mount Olympus. Flora is the goddess of flowers, youth, and spring which have been portrayed in the painting. Zephyr, Flora’s husband, was the God of wind and was known for having different wives, as seen in various myths. According to Greek mythology, Flora and Zephyr were married, but Flora was in love with Hercules, the greatest of all Greek gods.  Zephyr lived in a cave and was considered an excellent match for Flora since he was also a messenger of spring. Waterhouse tries to depict the aspect of love at first sight through this painting, where he draws the God falling in love with Flora.

The canvas used for the painting is long and horizontal, an aspect that Waterhouse embraced for this painting to show the scene in detail. Flora is painted sitting on a bench, with a flower garden and maidens surrounding them. Waterhouse uses the floral detail in Flora’s wine-colored dress to persist Flora’s name and presence in the painting. The white flowers carried by Zephyrs as he swoops don represent his feelings for Flora. Zephyrs put the flowers around Flora to depict him capturing Flora to be his for life. Waterhouse brings out Flora as being receptive and willing to accept Zephyr's love. The maidens and children in the painting have been drawn in bright colored dresses and are in an unconscious state as Waterhouse portrays women in all their naivete.

Flora and the Zephyrs in Detail John William Waterhouse