The Reproduction Process

Colors used:
Ophelia  1910

The British artist John William Waterhouse concluded three paintings portraying the female protagonist of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. The first work, Ophelia, was done in 1889 and shows the character laying on the grass. In 1894, the artist portrayed her in at a critical time, pondering about her suicide, in the oil painting entitled Ophelia. The final artwork, also entitled Ophelia, was done in 1910 and is the most dramatic of the three.

In the tragedy of Hamlet, Ophelia was one of the only female characters featured. She is driven into madness after Hamlet killed her father and left. Ultimately, Ophelia commits suicide by drowning herself in a river. In Ophelia, Waterhouse portrays the young woman with a stunned look on her face. She is wearing a beautiful long gown, according to the fashion of the Shakespearean era. The dress is light blue with long sleeves and a red undersleeve. The bust features details of golden ornaments, while the bottom of the skirt has a streak of gold fabric with elaborate drawings, like of an eagle. Her hair is loose, and she has no jewelry on, but her clothing gives her a regal posture.

The model is holding a bunch of wildflowers in her skirt, which creates a beautiful draping effect. Some of the same flowers were used to decorate her long, brunet hair. With the other hand, Ophelia holds on a large tree trunk by the river – contemplating her suicide. She looks directly at the audience with a dramatic expression, very different from the peaceful atmosphere that Waterhouse transpired in the first two versions. The forefront of the composition is filled with wild vegetation like long grass, weeds, and some small trees. The colors of her dress pop out from the natural shades of brown and green of her surroundings.

The brook she eventually throws herself in is seen in the background, painted in tonalities of blue and featuring many green water lily pads. To the left of the composition, the tree – in which the protagonist gentle holds on to – extends its branches over her head. In the far background, there are other dark trees, creating a shadow that highlights, even more, her light, soft skin. A wooden pier can be seen in the distance, and a couple looks back at Ophelia with glares of curiosity.

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Ophelia 1910 John William Waterhouse

Item Number: 14002371 show sizes in cm
Painting Price: $471.99
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