The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse

john william waterhouses the lady of shalott


Paintings are beautiful and meaningful in their own right. They add beauty and a look of freshness and wholesomeness to the house besides providing the house with a personal touch. Careful selection of an appropriate place for a particular painting to be hung is crucial; one has to make sure that the painting is not too big or too small for its designated space otherwise it shall look out of place. Keeping a collection of green plants near any painting almost instantly increases its attraction as green, being a soothing color, coordinates well with almost every object around it.

The Lady of Shalott painting

This oil-on-canvas painting was brought to life by the English painter John William Waterhouse in 1888. Waterhouse designed three versions of the character of the Lady of Shalott in 1888, 1894 and 1915. The painting depicts the plight of the Lady of Shalott, a lone and solitary figure who has been put under a curse that forbade her to become a part of the real world or even to look at it directly which would cause her ultimate downfall. She is seen leaving her cottage in the boat in a bid to meet her beloved, knowing her demise is near. The crucifix and the rosary suggests spiritualty while the three candles placed on the boat, of which two have already blown out, affirms that she is going to fall dead anytime soon.

The painting is carved beautifully in rich colors and the landscape setting is highly naturalistic. The expressions on the face of the lady bear a charming yet vulnerable look and express an intense yearning to unite with her unrequited love, Lord Lancelot. However, Alfred Tennyson’s poem of the same name describes the Lady of Shalott to have met her death, true to the spell, even before their eyes could meet in real. The poem is a beautiful yet sorrowful juxtaposition of the world of illusions of the Lady of Shalott as against the real world of Camelot of Sir Lancelot.

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The painting as a decorative element

The painting is an exquisite piece of art and is highly naturalistic. The background of the painting consists of dense trees and the overall ambience has a certain soothing effect. There is a certain sense of stillness and calmness to the scene which can also be interpreted as stillness of death. This enchanting picture if hung in the boudoir of the living room is sure to attract the attention of the guests.  If one can also coordinate the rest of the contents of the room-the furniture, the lightings and other motifs in the room, the entire room can be transformed by one painting. The painting can be hung as a single portrait by itself and would not go well if it is clustered among a collection of paintings. Yellow floor lights would look amazing for a room decorated with this picture.

Every painting is special in itself. Their proper matching with the décor of the room can work wonders in transforming the beauty of the room.

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