"Lady of Shalott" by William Holman Hunt.

Essay by woodzUniversity, Master'sA+, May 2003

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A Review of William Holman Hunt's The Lady of Shalott (Version 2)

William Holman Hunt's painting The Lady of Shalott (Version 2) is painted from the poem by the same title, written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. William Holman Hunt chose to paint emotionally charged moments and he captures that in this painting. In the center of this painting there is a typical "Pre-Raphaelite" woman who has long, loose, red hair, with very fair skin, and undone clothes ( she is without a corset). This is exact description of the woman at the center of William Holman Hunt's painting. The woman's long, curly, auburn hair is flowing freely in the wind, and she is in the process of untangling herself from the tapestry she is working on. Her slip is exposed to the viewer as she pulls at the strings caught in her dress with her right hand.

The entire painting is very detailed but there is a lot of emphasis on the lady's hair. At a first glance of the painting, the viewer's eye naturally goes towards the center of the painting and at the center of this painting is the lady's hair. Hunt knew that her hair was an important feature in this painting, (the hair conveys the lady's entrapment or entanglement with Sir Lancelot,) and so he spent a lot of time painting it. James Witcomb wrote, "The hair was modeled by a Mrs. Amelia Milnes, and took three years to finish. It was draped over an easel to get the windblown effect that Hunt wanted."# In Tennyson's poem the lady is very upset because of the unrequited love she has for Sir Lancelot. Tennyson writes in his poem;

"She left the web, she left the loom,

She made three paces through the room,