J.W. Waterhouse: The Modern Pre-Raphaelite at the Royal Academy

The Lady of Shalott, J.W. Waterhouse, 1888
On 27 June, J.W. Waterhouse: The Modern Pre-Raphaelite opens at the Royal Academy. I have loved his painting of The Lady of Shalott since I was a teenager. It is perfectly evocative of Tennyson’s poem of the same name – a wonderful poem to lose yourself in. The following stanza is captured by the painting:
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right –
The leaves upon her falling light –
Through the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Here is my favourite:
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turned to towered Camelot;
For ere she reached upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.
The poem was also the inspiration for the title of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple novel The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side:
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me”, cried
The Lady of Shalott.

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