Thoughts of the Past

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (1829-1908)


Oil on canvas

Tate Gallery, London

Stanhope's picture brings together several major Victorian motifs, the first of which is the contemplative woman or woman in reverie so familiar from Rossetti's Fair Ladies and paintings by many other artists. This instance of the woman-at-the-window theme, so popular in paintings of the Lady of Shalott and Mariana, here takes place in a contemporary setting and bears comparison to Hunt's Awakening Conscience. The woman, a prostitute living in a room down by the Thames docks, thinks, as does Hunt's kept woman, of a happier — and more innocent — past. — George P. Landow