The British painter John William Waterhouse concluded the artwork entitled I am Half Sick of Shadows, Said the Lady of Shalott in 1916, one year before his death. The artwork is part of a series of oil paintings done based on a nineteenth-century ballad called “The Lady of Shalott,” by the poet Alfred Tennyson, also known as Lord Tennyson, and is one his best-known work. Waterhouse also painted the masterpieces The Lady of Shalott (1888), and The Lady of Shalott (1894) with the same subject, even though during different periods of his career.
Although Waterhouse began his career as an Academic painter, he soon felt some discord about the rigid rules of the academies and turned to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The painter was part of the second generation of the movement, bringing it to the twentieth century. Just as when the Brotherhood started in 1848, the artists involved kept the essence of the group.
In I am Half Sick of Shadows, Said the Lady of Shalott the model sits indoors, resting from her hard work of weaving a colorful pattern. She is sitting to the left of the composition, with her arms up and her fingers intertwined behind her head. With a somber expression on her face, Lady of Shalott seems bored and tired. The model has light skin with rosy lips and cheeks, as well as dark hair – characteristic attributed to the women of the Shakespearean era. The woman is wearing a long bright red dress with a thin gold belt and golden slippers as well. Her sleeves are a slightly different shade of red and are long and puffy.
The surroundings are very busy, with a large wooden machine that Lady of Shalott uses for weaving and different colored balls of string fallen on the floor. The black and white square tiles give the room a greater sense of perspective – a trick used by many Renaissance painters. The model looks to her left, distracting herself with the view of the outside world. If observed carefully, she is not looking directly outdoors, but at a round mirror that reflects some objects in her studio, ancient columns and decorated arcs, as well as couples taking a stroll outdoors. There is a bright castell on the far background, as well as a bridge over a calm river.
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