Ophelia - John Everett Millet. 76.2 x 111.8 cm
The last moments of the life of a beautiful girl were portrayed by John Everett Millet in the film “The Death of Ophelia”. The famous Shakespearean character often became the main character of the paintings of many artists, but it seems that only Millet was able to bring so many characters and "talking" elements into the work.
According to the tragedy of the great English playwright, Ophelia, who learned that her lover Hamlet was involved in the death of her father, committed suicide by throwing herself in the water. But Millet presents us with a plot described by the lips of mother Ophelia. She then believed that the death of her daughter was an accident - they say, Ophelia came to hang a wreath of flowers on a tree branch, but she suddenly broke off and the beauty fell into the water. The viewer really sees the same wreath in the hands of a drowning man.
As a model, Millet invited Elizabeth Siddal, who had to lie for many hours in a row in the bathroom so that the painter would write what they say from life. In order for the girl not to freeze, the bathroom was heated with special burners, but still she managed to seriously catch a cold. The artist even had to reimburse all the funds for the treatment of his model.
The most interesting thing is that usually artists write heroes, and only after that they paint the landscape as the least important element. Here, Millet began precisely with the landscape, having written out every flower and blade of grass with botanical accuracy, and only after that he started to Ophelia herself. Why? It is the landscape in this work that carries the main semantic load.
Gloomy tones of the background set to a mournful mood. Willow, which rises above Ophelia, symbolizes rejected love, nettles and daisies mean pain and innocence, respectively.
Beautiful Ophelia spread her arms, a magnificent dress holds her while on the water, she casts a farewell look at the clear sky. Millet seemed to stop this difficult moment for us, but at the same time reliably showed through symbol plants that a sad end is inevitable.