John William Waterhouse. (1849 - 1917). The Lady of Shalott (1888).
The painting evokes the poem of Alfred Tennyson writes in 1832. Élaine Astolat is locked up in a tower on the island of Shalott, opposite of Camelot, a fairy threw a fate to him. It can see the world only by the reflections of a mirror installed in its room. One night of the newly-wedds come to find itself under its window. “I am half sick of shadows” said the Lady of Shalott. When she sees beautiful Lancelot in her mirror she fall in love and decides to break her destiny and to join reality being satisfied more with the reflections. She goes down at the edge of the river, gets into a boat after having written her name on the prow, and hopes while descending the river to enter Camelot to join Lancelot. In the ight one intends it to sing while its blood is frozen little by little and that its eyes darken. She arrives at Camelot dead. The poem is an allegory of the female condition at the time. He asks the women to take their destiny in hand. The poem and this painting have an enormous success.
The point of view of the spectator is at the level of the face of the young woman.
Its mouth is half-opened, it started its last song and fixes the crucifix and the 3 candles in front of the boat.
The model is positioned on the left tension field between 2 natural points of interest.
The zones where water is present dominate. Then nature. The sky is revealed a little in top and on the right.
Many rising or downward guiding lines are parallel, the branches of the trees, the hair, the folds of the dress and the tapestry of the young woman. The geometrical center of the fabric is close to the young lady.
2 swallows fly around the boat. In many cultures at a certain time one thought that the heart of late left its body in the shape of a small bird. The bird thus becomes thus an allegory of the heart which moves away from the ground. Around the cemeteries at all the times there always were many swallows.
The right hand of Lady Shalott releases the chain which retains the boat.
On the tapestry it embroidered all the history of its life which is completed.
In front of the boat is a lantern, a crucifix and 3 candles. The 3 is a figure crowned in all the religions, it represents the Holy Trinity, in mythology 3 park weave and cut the wire of the life. If the candles represent the life symbolically, here 2 are extinct.
The posture of Shalott Lady is proud, it seems given even if its eyes are melancholic persons. Its mouth is half-opened, it starts its last song.
Light: The light is that of the setting sun, it comes from right-hand side and of in bottom it is a low-angled light. It emphasizes the model but it dramatizes the scene.
Colors: Harmonize and Contrasts.
Contrast between hot and cold colors.
Similar Paintings :
John Everett Millais.(1829 - 1896). Ophelia. (1852).
Ophélie is a heroin of the tragedy in 5 acts, Hamlet, of William Shakespeare written in 1601. Ophélie is in love with Hamlet but this romantic idyll turns badly. Hamlet to simulate the madness rejects it and by accident keep silent his/her Polonius father. Ophélie becomes insane and drowns in a river. The tragic destiny of Ophélie inspired many painters. Waterhouse represented Ophélie 3 times. The fabric of Millais represents Ophélie absorbed by a dark water among the flowers and a luxuriant nature this work obtains an enormous success immediately.
John William Waterhouse. (1849 - 1917).
I am with sick half of the shades, known as Lady Shalott. (1915).
Lady Shalott is represented here in her tower observing in a mirror the reflections of what it occurs outside. In front of it its weaving loom where it represents what it sees. The legend says that a fairy threw a bad fate to him and it is when she sees the reflection of Lancelot through the mirror which she precipitates with the window to see reality. The mirror breaks, the weaving loom breaks and it must leave the tower to achieve its destiny.