The Lady of Shalott

William Holman Hunt, 1827 - 1910

The Lady of Shalott

William Holman Hunt 1827 - 1910


A depiction of the chaos which ensues after the Lady of Shalott has looked directly at Sir Launcelot. The Lady stands in her chamber within a circular loom. The partly finished web is disintegrating, entangling the weaver. The Lady stands on the left, dressed in a feather-textured bodice over a cream chemise and pink ruched skirt. Her long thick auburn hair has been blown high above her head by the turmoil in the room, which has also caused doves to fly from their nests. Her wooden shoes lie discarded on the ground in front of her. There is a floor-standing, silver, six branch candlestick on the right. On the wall behind her is a mirror reflecting the tapestry she is weaving and Sir Launcelot. Two smaller ovals flank the central mirror, the right hand oval containing an image of a bearded man seated with a globe in his hands. This represents Christ in Majesty. The left oval has an image of a kneeling man: this is Christ experiencing the Agony in the Garden. Above the ovals is a border of cherubs on the left and the right. The painting has a decorative gilt frame with a scrolling feature on the sides and top, with an inscription of 8 lines from Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shalott at the top and bottom.

Display Label

Gallery text panel The Pre-Raphaelites in their Time Britain's first and best-known radical art movement emerged from within the Royal Academy in 1848. Its original members were rebellious art students who were disillusioned with contemporary practice. They looked back to Italian art before Raphael, seeing the pre-1500 period as one of great sincerity. They called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In an age of rapid industrial and urban expansion, Pre-Raphaelite artists like Rossetti, Hunt and Millais, and pioneering design reformers such as William Morris, sought a return to pre-industrial values of art and design in truth to nature and materials, and good workmanship. In addition, the arts of the Middle Ages and Middle East were important sources of stylistic inspiration. The Bible, literature and contemporary life were preferred over subjects derived from classical mythology. The Brotherhood also rejected contrived studio lighting and took canvases outside to paint directly from nature. Although attempting to convey exactly what they saw, they created a heightened reality of dream-like intensity with minute details and bright, dazzling colours. Their art was a new kind of history painting for a new age.

Object Name

The Lady of Shalott

Creators Name

William Holman Hunt

Date Created

1886-1905 circa


unframed: 44.4cm x 34.1cm
framed: 77cm x 65cm

accession number


Place of creation





Oil paint


Bequeathed by John Edward Yates


© Manchester Art Gallery

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