Google+ The Art that Inspires Writers and Readers: Paintings to die for

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Paintings to die for

This is a detail of one of the "Ophelia" paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite Sir John Everett Millais (British, 1829-1896). As a child I would spend time in marvelled contemplation of the lady drowned, covered by flowers. The paint looked cracked in the book, giving it an aura of despair and abandon. No heroine of historical romance novels ends up like her and the knowing of this rule is one of the pleasures of the genre. You know that no matter how much the heroine suffers, at the end she will find love and hope and happiness. But It will be Ophelia's image the one that never fades from my memory. While countless others just blend one to the other and float away, leaving just a passing feeling of light enjoyment.

An other pre-Raphaelite painter with a similar style: John William Waterhouse ( British, 1845-1916) painted images from mythology and legends, most of them depicting women near the water (A self--fulfilling prophecy?). The pre-raphaelite style was already out of date when he embraced it, but the general public has never really liked the vanguard. Maybe because of this he enjoyed fame during his lifetime, not a small feat for a painter.

This is probably his most famous paintings:  The lady of Shalott, a study of Eleine of Astolat,  who dies of grief when Lancelot will not love her.

And let me just ad one more: Miranda, from Shakespeare's play The Tempest. She lives in an isolated island since the age of three, where she has been banished with her father and slave. She finds out that she is the princess of Milan and later she finds true love with a shipwrecked prince. Naive Miranda expresses her wander of the world at the end of the play : 

O wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,

That has such people in't.

maybe she should be expressing her wonder to remain alive.