The Lady of Shalott

by John William Waterhouse (1888)

The Lady of Shalott is based on a poem from Alfred, Lord Tennyson set during the times of King Arthur. In the poem, the Lady of Shalott lives in an island castle in a river which flows to Camelot, but the local farmers know little about her. She suffers from a mysterious curse and must continually weave images on her loom without ever looking directly out at the world. Instead, she looks into a mirror, which reflects the busy road and the people of Camelot who pass by her island. One day, among the “shadows of the world” the lady sees Sir Lancelot riding towards Camelot. The lady falls in love and looks out of her window towards Camelot, bringing about the curse. She leaves her tower, finds a boat upon which she writes her name, and floats down the river to Camelot. She dies before arriving at the palace. Among the knights and ladies who see her is Lancelot, who thinks she is lovely.

In Waterhouse’s version, a crucifix is placed at the head of the bow.

Revelations 2:9-11

‘I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.

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