HUNT, William Holman
(b. 1827, London, d. 1910, London)

The Lady of Shalott

Oil on canvas, 189 x 146 cm
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford

The Lady of Shalott depicts a scene from Alfred Lord Tennyson's 1832 poem of the same title, in which the poet describes the plight of a young woman isolated under an undisclosed curse in a tower near King Arthur's Camelot. According to legend, the Lady of Shalott was forbidden to look directly at reality or the outside world; instead she was doomed to view the world through a mirror, and weave what she saw into tapestry. One day the Lady saw Sir Lancelot passing on his way in the reflection of the mirror, and dared to look out at Camelot, bringing about a curse.

At the cusp of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Hunt was alone in keeping faith with the principles of the Brotherhood as the pre-Raphaelite lexicon veered towards Art Nouveau.

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