John William Waterhouse made the oil painting entitled Miranda in 1875. The artist concluded a painting with the same theme later in 1916, which he named Miranda – The Tempest, in a much more drastic atmosphere. The two paintings are based on William Shakespeare’s playwright The Tempest in which Miranda is the leading female character. The story is about Prospero – Duke of Milan and a powerful magician – along with his three-year-old daughter Miranda stay stranded on an island for twelve years. Caliban, a native of the island and son of Sycorax, a witch, was enslaved by Prospero and his magic powers.
In The Tempest, there is a predominantly male storyline, having Miranda stand out as an influential female role. The character is extremely subordinated by her father, as he dictates her life. She eventually married to Ferdinand, another male figure that dominates and manipulates her, because of her innocence and vulnerability. Different from Miranda – The Tempest, this earlier work of Shakespeare’s story isn’t as dramatic and turbulent. In both paintings, Waterhouse portrays Miranda on the beach staring out into the ocean, which in this interpretation is calm. Both artworks have similar compositions, with Miranda on the right side of the canvas.
The model wears a beige dress, which Waterhouse represents with beautiful folds and crests as she sits on a large rock. She crosses her legs and intertwines her fingers while looking at the vast ocean as if she were waiting for something or someone. She has long blond hair that is put up in a braided bun and has a delicate white lace – different from Miranda – The Tempest that shows the character with long red hair. Waterhouse used natural colors in this painting, like shades of brown on the large boulders and some green details.
The ocean is very calm, in shades of white, blue and blue-green. The left side of the sky shows a colorful orange, yellow, and pink atmosphere behind the gray clouds. A storm seems to brew on the right of the composition as the clouds get darker. The dark blue-gray sky behind the model highlights her light and vibrant figure. Waterhouse creates a lingering atmosphere of nostalgia and innocence which can be open to many different interpretations by the viewer.
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