Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sundays Art: Pre-Raphaelites Miranda: The Tempest 1916

John William Waterhouse 1849-1917

This is one of Waterhouse's last pieces completed just a year before his passing. Shakespeare's The Tempest was the written inspiration behind the piece. Despite its late date, this picture shows a strong Pre-Rapaelite influence. Miranda's stance, clothing, skin, and hair are all redolent of an early Burne-Jones or Millais.

Waterhouse chose to illustrate the following lines of Miranda's speech:
O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer! A brave vessel,
Who had no doubt some noble creature in her,
Dash'd all to pieces! O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart.

Miranda is depicted holding her left hand to her heart, reflecting the pain she expresses in the words. Although the viewer can see little of her features, her anguish is portrayed cleverly by the manner in which Waterhouse etched the profile of her face.


  1. What a coincidence that you chose this picture to spotlight - it's my computer wallpaper for this week!

    Too funny!

    It's just a sad and forlorn image and now that I read the accompanying prose it makes it more so.

  2. There is a strange kind of serenity about Miranda also in this painting, though - don't you think?. It captures the mood of the play – in which we always feel that everything is somehow going to turn out well in the end.
    I believe The Tempest was staged in London around about the time of Ben Jonson’s ‘The Alchemist’ and the Shakespearean play could be viewed as an antithesis of that satire, being an allegorical work of spiritual alchemy. The character of prospero is based on the Elizabethan astronomer and alchemist John Dee. (One of Dee’s daughters was called Madinia, and even in his own time he was credited with evoking the great tempest that wrecked the Armada in 1588. Miranda is the serene spirit of the magus who resists the animal base instincts represented in the play by Caliban. Miranda it is who brings about the reconciliation through love, at which Prospero is able to surrender at last his magic and to break his staff. A new beginning.

  3. Awww, I really hope you're feeling alot better hun:)

    You got a lovely bunch thisd week - kinda makes up for your not feeling so good, huh;)

  4. This is my favorite Waterhouse. I always look forward to Pre-Raphelite Sunday. Hope you are doing better. That flu is a nasty bug. I had it for an entire week.

  5. Amy I too love this one but I think the Mermaid one and the Sorcerer are my favorite.

    Robert thank you for your wonderful knowledge on Miranda's history. All of the details you gave I had no idea about. I am reading Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer and in the first pages is a reference to Miranda.

    Thank you Lucy and Susie I am finally feeling better and then the kid wakes up with a fever! It is a vicious circle that keeps going round and round here.

    Susie, I have got Pre-Raphelites scheduled all the way through March!


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