The Lady of Shalott by William Waterhouse

The Lady of Shalott, 1888

This painting by John William Waterhouse illustrates the lines from part IV of Tennyson’s 1842 poem, also entitled The Lady of Shalott:

And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance –
With glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

The Lady of Shalott was tempted out of her isolation upon seeing Lancelot’s reflection in her mirror. However, the curse placed upon her caused her to die before reaching her true love.

I have loved this painting ever since I first saw it aged 12. Since then, my love for it has continued to grow, despite its sorrowful, fatalistic theme.

Image via tate.org.uk

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6 Comments

  1. Get ready for a loooooong read. It’s a hefty tome to be sure, but well written. The story follows the lives of women involved in the King Arthur legend. If you’ve been attracted to such tales, you will not be disappointed.

  2. Having almost finished MZ Bradley’s hugely successful fiction ‘The Mists of Avalon’ (1982), I have to comment on Warehouse’s painting as being perfection itself in representing the mystical aura which permeates the lives of those powerful women who are the main characters. Any person who loves ‘The Lady of Shalott’ would enjoy the book immensely.

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