Hayez's subtle use of light emerald greens, complemented by pinks and reds, is particularly appealing.
The painting depicts a boatload of Greeks and Turks fleeing fighting that broke out between the two nationalities on the island of Chios.
From the Sotheby's catalogue note:
The horrific plight of the Chians quickly became a cause célèbre throughout Europe, written up as a vivid example of the barbarism of the infidel. The subject in turn inspired painters, as recorded most famously in Eugène Delacroix's monumental oil painting Massacre at Chios that was exhibited to great acclaim at the Paris Salon of 1824. Although keenly aware of Delacroix's composition, when Hayez addressed the subject he did not depict the carnage of the event; but dwelt instead on the complex rapport between the Chians and the Ottomans. In Hayez' oil both captors and captives make off from the island by boat. Although saved from the immediate terror of events on Chios, the women are still, quite clearly, subjugated to their Turkish overlords - a clear reference to Greece's indefatigable spirit in the face of long-standing Ottoman oppression.