John William Waterhouse drew the portrait entitled Study for The Lady Clare in 1900, the same year he concluded the final painting, The Lady Clare. These artworks portray the title character from Alfred Tennyson’s book. Throughout his artistic career, he also represented his views of another one of the British poet’s stories, “The Lady of Shalott.” Inspired by the XIX century ballad, Waterhouse painted I am Half Sick of Shadows, Said the Lady of Shalott (1916), The Lady of Shalott (1888), and The Lady of Shalott (1894).
As a pupil of the Royal Academy of London, Waterhouse had technical excellence when it came to oil painting and drawing. He soon turned his attention to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a movement that began the year he was born and went against some regulations of the academies. The group based their production on themes of ancient Greek mythology as well as Arthurian legends and literature. They also experimented with brighter color palettes, as well as working outdoors. Waterhouse brought the movement to the XX century and continued with the group’s original ideas.
In Study for The Lady Clare, the artist creates a delicate portrait of the character with pencil on paper. The warm brown pigment suggests he possibly used a pastel or crayon material over an off-white surface. The artwork is very realistic but still shows the artist’s unique trace, as he used a crosshatching technique – meaning he drew a series overlaying parallel lines in order to darken the image and obtain an illusion of depth.
The model featured long, straight, and dark hair bundled in a low bun and held with a gentle rose. She faces the right of the composition, towards the light source with deep, dark eyes. Her face is soft; with a delicate nose and full lips. Lady Clare is depicted wearing a low-neck blouse, highlighting her elbows and chest. Each sleeve has a thin strip going around the arm and opening up to a puffy sleeve. The background is represented by a simple shadow also in with crosshatching. The final painting, The Lady Clare, shows the model in a natural surrounding with a field of grass, some trees and a river in the background. A pure white deer stands behind her, and the artist changed her glare, now directed at the audience.
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