I don’t know about you, but I need (and sometimes crave) Art. I see it as an antidote to all that is coarse and vulgar in this world. I mean, imagine a world without art. It might resemble the inside of Donald Trump’s head: hollow, amoral, meaningless. And how fitting to compare an Art-less world to Trump’s cerebrum, because since 2017 he’s been threatening to cut funding to the National Endowment of the Arts, Humanities and a half dozen other beloved institutions relating to music, literature, theater, dance, public radio, and the like.
But getting back to Art, a far more illuminating subject than the inside of DT’s head. As I sat at my desk yesterday reading my favorite on-line newspaper, The Guardian, I saw this image and it took my breath away. It’s the most beautiful Ophelia I’ve ever seen … and it’s a photograph! (Julia Fullerton Batten)
The original is in London’s Tate Gallery, of course, which reminds me that the next time I visit that fine city, I must pop in and revisit her. I remember seeing her for the first time when I was a teenager. In front of the large painting I stood enchanted, gazing at it for a long time.
Here’s the original above, painted by John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896). The depicted scene is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act IV, Scene vii, in which Ophelia, driven out of her mind when her father is murdered by her lover Hamlet, falls into a stream and drowns. The flowers she holds are symbolic: the poppy signifies death, daisies innocence, and pansies thoughts.
Millais’s model was a young woman aged nineteen called Elizabeth Siddall. She was discovered by his friend, Walter Deverell, working in a hat shop. She later married one of Millais’s friends, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, in 1860. To get the full story on Ophelia and to see these images in a larger format, click on the links below –