Monday, November 30, 2009

Ophelia (1851-2) by John Everett Millais

Today in my 19th century art/architecture class we briefly went over one of my favourite paintings, which I want to share with you, called Ophelia by John Everett Millais who was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This painting is taken from Shakespeare's play Hamlet (which I am currently studying in my Shakespeare class), where his love Ophelia dies offstage; we are never shown her actual death. Ophelia apparently spent much of her days singing to herself and one day she had gone to pick flowers by the river when she fell in. Her clothing became so heavy that she could not lift herself up and so she drowned. The model in the painting is Elizabeth Siddal who was one of the most favourite Pre-Raphaelite models. In order for Mallais to capture this woman floating in water accurately, he immersed her in a bathtub. As a result she got very ill from lying in a cold bathtub and she was too scared/shy to interrupt the artist as he was painting her so she just laid there not moving until he finished.

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