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It is one of the most recognizable examples of nineteenth-century British art, intermingling the bygone ideals of the mid-century Pre-Raphaelite movement, the nascent Symbolist ideals in literature and painting, and the detritus of medieval myths and legends that seem to forever linger in the English countryside. Indeed, John William Waterhouse’s 1888 painting, “The Lady of Shalott” is a throwback to the ideals and visual lexicon of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood that greatly influenced the reigning decadent style of 1880s Paris. As a broader historical movement, Symbolism in art and literature aimed to combine poetry and painting, shun documentary realism in favor of experiential evocation, and capture the emotional resonance of a scene. Unusually abstract for late-nineteenth century popular art, Symbolism delved into the mysticism of accursed female protagonists. Combining many constituent elements of all of these then-dominant styles, Waterhouse’s “The Lady of Shalott” became an instant success. Like his later mature work “The Soul of The Rose”, “The Lady of Shalott” was inspired by a poem by the leading poet of the Victorian era, Alfred Lord Tennyson. The poet’s ballad ‘"The Lady of Shalott"’ narrates the fate of a woman confined to a tower — a typically medieval fate — and allowed to only see the world beyond her prison through its reflection in a mirror. This legend, said to date from the mysterious time of King Arthur, ends with the tragic figure catching sight of the Knight Lancelot in her mirror. Wishing to see the true likeness of the object of her affections, the Lady drops the mirror and looks at the Knight directly. The curse takes hold and she leaves her tower, sailing mournfully down the river to meet her death.