The Lady of Shalott


The Lady of Shalott

The Lady of Shalott

Inspiration for today – The Pre Raphaelite brotherhood

My favorite Pre Raphaelite painting is “The Lady of Shalott”, painted by John William Waterhouse in 1888 and the story based on a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Waterhouse’s use of symbolism conveys the emotion of this story so well.

Tennyson’s poem verse Part IV was a favorite among the Pre-Raphaelite poets and painters, and was illustrated by such artist as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Maw Egley and William Holman Hunt.

And the story goes…

The Lady of Shalott is a magical being who lives isolated in a castle upstream from King Arthur’s Camelot.  She looks at the world outside her castle window in a mirror, and weaves what she sees into a tapestry. Because of a curse placed upon her, she is forbidden to look at the outside world directly.

One day, in her mirror, she sees the reflection of the knight Sir Lancelot riding alone. She is instantly smitten and although she knows that it is forbidden, she looks out the window at him. The mirror shatters and her tapestry flies off on the wind.

Desiring to meet him, the Lady escaped by boat during an autumn storm, inscribing ‘The Lady of Shalott’ on the prow. As she sails towards Camelot and to certain death, she sang a lament. The locals finding the boat and her body realize who she is and are saddened. The Tapestry she wove during her imprisonment was found draped over the side of the boat. Lancelot prays that God will have mercy on her soul.

What is your favorite Pre Raphaelite artist and painting?

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