Tuesday, June 05, 2018

June Masterpiece of the Month: The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse

Who Made It?
An English artist named John William Waterhouse created this painting in 1888.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at the Tate Museum in London, England.

Why Is it Important?
This painting illustrates a poem by Lord, Alfred Tennyson also called,  "The Lady of Shalott". It describes the sad story of a young woman who is imprisoned in a tower in King Arthur's kingdom of Camelot. According to the legend, the Lady was forbidden to look directly at the world. Instead, she was doomed to view the world through a mirror and forced to weave what she saw into a tapestry. One day she saw one of King Arthur's knights, Sir Lancelot, in the mirror's reflection and fell in love with him. She then turned to look at him directly and a curse fell upon her. In despair, she escaped the tower and sailed adrift in a boat until her certain death.

Waterhouse was a member of a group of artists and poets known as The Pre-Raphaelites. Tennyson's poem was very popular among The Pre-Raphaelites. Waterhouse was greatly inspired by Tennyson's poetry and painted The Lady of Shalott in three different versions! This painting is typical of most Pre-Raphaelite paintings because it shows a doomed woman from a famous legend, surrounded by early evening light. Candles were used as a symbol of life and here, two of the candles have blown out, warning us of the Lady's sad fate.