The Lady of Shalott (c.1886–1905)
by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)
Medium: oil on panel
Dimensions: H 44.4 x W 34.1 cm
Hunt's image takes inspiration from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem of the same name. Based on Arthurian legend, the Lady of Shalott is confined by a curse in a tower near Camelot and unable to leave or even look out of the window. Her only glimpse of the world beyond is from a reflection in the mirror, and these are the scenes she relentlessly weaves on her loom to occupy her in captivity. Hunt chooses to paint the moment in the story when the sight and sound of Sir Lancelot draw her to the forbidden window, and the 'mirror crack'd from side to side' as a tragic curse takes its effect.
What else tells us that she was pulled to the window unexpectedly? What else in the scene is disturbed? Will she ever make it to Camelot?