Featured Artworks – The Lady of Shalott – John William Waterhouse

John_William_Waterhouse_The_Lady_of_Shalott

The Lady of Shalott is an 1888 oil-on-canvas painting by the English Pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse. The work is a representation of a scene from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s 1832 poem of the same name, in which the poet describes the plight of a young woman, loosely based on the figure of Elaine of Astolat from medieval Arthurian legend, who yearned with an unrequited love for the knight Sir Lancelot, isolated under an undisclosed curse in a tower near King Arthur’s Camelot.

Tennyson’s verse was popular with many of the Pre-Raphaelite poets and painters. Throughout his career, Waterhouse was preoccupied with the poetry of both Tennyson and John Keats. Although the painting is typically Pre-Raphaelite in composition and tone, its central framing is more typical of traditional compositions. It is typically Pre-Raphaelite in that it illustrates a vulnerable and doomed woman and is bathed in natural early-evening light. The lady is portrayed staring away from the crucifix, which sits beside three candles. During the late nineteenth century, candles were often used to symbolise life: In this image, two have blown out

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