Pictorial Interpretations of ‘The Lady of Shalott’

A quick Google Images search of ‘The Lady of Shalott’ shows a large amount of Pre-Raphaelite depictions. Pre-Raphaelites focused on abundant detail and intense colours. They found a rich source of pictorial inspiration in Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” most likely because of the subject matter: a beautiful but unattainable woman tragically dying for love. The theme of the woman destroyed/victimized by love dominated not only Pre-Raphaelite but Victorian paintings and poems for much of the nineteenth century.

I decided to search for other lesser-known depictions of the Lady of Shalott, ones that aren’t necessarily ones we see on the Google Images results. The variances in styles/portrayals show an interesting mix in interpretations. Here are just some that I found and thought to share (note: the first and last two are by female artists):

(Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, The Lady of Shalott, 1853)


(Howard Pyle, The Lady of Shalott, 1881)


(Florence Rutland, 1896)


(Inez Warry, The Lady of Shalott, 1890)

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One Response to Pictorial Interpretations of ‘The Lady of Shalott’

  1. jcdegner says:

    I realize you posted this quite some time ago, but I just came across and found it quite interesting. I really enjoyed seeing how each artist interpreted the Lady of Shalott differently. I think it is extremely demonstrative of each of their personal preferences and personalities. For example, my favourite picture was the Siddal drawing. This is because I found it to be extremely simplistic and yet accurate at the same time. Although the different details from the poem, including the cracked mirror, the loom, and the window, are all still clearly visible, I thought the Lady herself was very plain. This shows me that that particular artist did not see the Lady of Shalott as an extremely beautiful woman, as is implied by some of the other paintings in your post. For instance, in the very first picture you showed, the Lady of Shalott appears to be covered in beautiful clothes and is lying in quite a graceful pose. In Siddal’s picture, on the other hand, the Lady has a very simple dress and hairstyle, and does not stand out as a stunning woman. This demonstrates how each author interpreted the poem and what their personal taste are.

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