"I Am Half-Sick of Shadows," Said the Lady of Shalott
John William Waterhouse, 1849-1917
Signed and dated lower right: J. W. Waterhouse 1915
Oil on canvas
39 i/z x 29 in. (100.3 x 73.7 cm.)
Lent by the Art Gallery of Ontario (acc. no. 71/18) Gift of Mrs. Phillip B. Jackson
Provenance: Mrs. Frederick Cowan; Mrs. Phillip B. Jackson, 1971; Art Gallery of Ontario.
Exhibited: Ladies of Shalott: A Victorian Masterpiece and its Contexts (Providence, 1985)
Catalogue Entry by Elizabeth Nelson
Like the PRB, John William Waterhouse had a predilection for depicting the themes of love unrequited or frustrated by the fates, such as the embowered and cursed Lady of Shalott. In this work, the first of Waterhouse's three versions of the subject, he depicts the Lady of Shalott at the moment when she sees the "young lovers lately wed" and becomes dissatisfied with her isolated life in the tower. The first version (1888) now in the Tate Gallery, depicts the Lady setting out for Camelot in her boat. The second (1894) now in the City Art Gallery in Leeds, portrays the climactic moment when she sees Lancelot in the mirror and turns to look out the window at him. Waterhouse's portrayal of the Lady in this entry as a wistful, young princess in a luxurious tower reveals his underlying interest in the subject of frustrated or unrequited love.