Description of John Waterhouse's Ophelia painting

Description of John Waterhouse's Ophelia painting

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Waterhouse is an English painter known for his paintings that reveal and illustrate mythological and literary subjects. Most often, the central image of the paintings is the image of a woman, all of them are painted with visible attention to detail, observation, tenderness and thoughtfulness, focus on the inner world and the heroine’s experiences.

Ophelia is the heroine of Shakespeare, Hamlet's lover, a young girl who did not answer the prince to his love aspirations and went crazy after Hamlet killed her father. After the death scene, she appears in the play only two times, being completely insane.

He sings outwardly meaningless songs and acts aloof. Her story ends with death - it is carried away by the river, and no one in reality or in the world of Hamlet can say for sure whether she fell by accident or committed suicide. Disputes are still ongoing.

Waterhouse is also ambiguous in the interpretation of history - his Ophelia stands on the shore, raising the hem for the next step, holding an armful of flowers, but her face is so concentrated and at the same time detached that it cannot be said if she sees anything in front of her.

Her gaze, painfully fixed, is fixed on the viewer. The chin is raised. It is as if she was looking for something or was frightened of something - it is impossible to determine by her appearance whether she is consciously going to step into the stream.

However, focusing on the image of Ophelia, young, crazy and beautiful, the artist does not forget about the details. About the flowers at her feet, about the bunches of tall grass on the shore, about the ladies on the veranda - they look at Ophelia, wary, but, it seems, still do not understand what will happen in the next moment. And it is easy to imagine how the water will splash, taking Ophelia, and how, with the same painfully focused, anxious face, she will float in the stream until the dress finally draws her to the bottom.

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