Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Lady of Shalott

Lately I've been really missing my days back in college where my knowledge, talent and intellect was constantly growing and being challenged. I especially miss my art history classes where the knowledge learned often inspired artwork within me. I've decided to spend a few minutes once a day going to museum websites and choosing one painting to examine and learn about. I decided to go to the Tate Museum as my first online art museum "outing" and couldn't resist going to visit one of my favorite paintings in their collection. I was fortunate enough to see this painting in person at the Tate over 2 years ago and it was a life changing experience.


John William Waterhouse's  Lady of Shalott is often deemed to be one of the most famous and well-known paintings of this period. This painting illustrates Alfred Tennyson’s poem The Lady of Shalott. Waterhouse was so enamored with this tale that he painted three different versions of this character, in 1888, 1894 and 1916. Draped over the boat is the fabric the lady wove in a tower near Camelot. But she brought a curse on herself by looking directly at Sir Lancelot.With her right hand she lets go of the chain mooring the boat. Her mouth is slightly open, as she sings ‘her last song’. She stares at a crucifix lying in front of her. Beside it are three candles, often used to symbolise life. Two have blown out. This suggests her life will end soon, as she floats down the river.

For your own enjoyment, I have included the two other versions that he painted of this character...


For your own museum outing to the Tate...http://www.tate.org.uk/collection/


  1. One of my very favorite paintings! I was able to see it at the Tate in 2000. In fact, I visited the Tate just because they had this painting in their collection! U can't wait to see what/where you visit next.

  2. Seeing this picture after so many years really stirs some emotions in me. I was given a print of this picture in college by a friend who was an art history major and continued on to get her masters. I never knew the story behind it, but the print stayed with me throughout college and a postcard version was with me for several years after that. I also love your new motivation, it's inspiring to see you pursue your passions.

  3. Yes most beautiful expressions,you are lucky to have a visit...

  4. Rebecca, I too miss my art history classes and agree this is a wonderful practice. Thanks for the link!