Sunday, December 02, 2007


Sir John Everett Millais
I worked a little on my picture today, but not sufficient to show you....this brought to mind a quote from one of my favourite artists: Millais. He once said: that he could no longer '..spend a whole day painting an area no bigger than a five shilling piece'. He was under pressure to produce work quicker especially as he'd married the ex-wife of his greatest supporter John Ruskin and was on his way to fathering 8 children. Despite this necessity, he went on to become the highest earning artist of his day. and became president of the Royal Academy in London.
I've always admired the work of Millais. His membership of the PreRaphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) saw some of the most technically startling works of the era. The PRB consisted of a close knit group of English artists who strove to produce work that was true to nature and had an uplifting and 'noble' subject. In essence they were a group of rebellious artists against the vulgar and sentimental art of the time.
I like the painting of Ophelia because of the overall execution of the image and the feeling of decadence in the figure as she slips beneath the surface of the water to her death. Millais painted the background to the piece in Surrey during 1851. He used Elizabeth Siddal ( with whom it is reputed that he had a secret love affair with) who posed in a bath of water heated only by candles placed underneath. Millais bought the Antique dress for her to lie in. There are many stories surrounding the result of lying in this bath in that the model contracted pneumonia and died. This is not true.
The picture is rich in detail and colour and evokes a dreamlike eroticism full of tragedy and beauty. Though copied as a theme repeatedly, Ophelia was an original concept image (based on the character in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet') of the time and was therefore widely renowned.
I'll be back to my Ball Of Wool tomorrow...see you then!


Tys on Ice said...

i hve always loved this painting...if iam not mistaken there was this music video by kate bush that was influenced by this painting...

Ps said...

Ophelia has always been one of my favourites too. I didnt know the story behind it.You have elaborated it so well. Thank you!

Julie Schuler said...

I love this painting. I was never able to say so in college, or I'd have been accused of being a hysterical romantic. Postmodernism is a terrible thing to have to live through! Can't we just like paintings because they are well-painted?!

Niall said...

We should embrace the whole romantic decadence of the piece and slip beneath the waters of its wonder to be wholly saturated with it's least that's what i think!