Iconic Images: Lady of Shalott/Elaine of Astolat

TEXT TO BE DISBURSED

John Jellicoe (
British, 1843-1909). Elaine in the Barge. An original pen-and-ink drawing. Penned in is a quotation from Tennyson’s “Lancelot and Elaine”: “Then turned the tongueless man—and pointed to the damsel.”

A figure painter and illustrator, Jellicoe was a prolific artist who contributed illustrations to newspapers, magazines, and books. Although he occasionally produced color illustrations, most were pen-and-ink, like the one displayed here.

This is the first piece of original Arthurian art acquired by the Lupacks, so it holds a special place in their collection.

 

William Purton (British, 1833-1891). Lancelot and Elaine. A pen-and-ink drawing, signed in pencil, with Purton's monogram to the lower right, and illustrating the lines “Suddenly flashed on her a wild desire, that he should wear her favour at the tilt.”

Raised in an artistic environment, Purton was an ordained deacon, curate, and vicar. Although his drawings for The Idylls of the King were never published, they suggest the preoccupation of artists, both amateur and professional, in his day with Tennyson. It is likely that this was one of a series of drawings for a contest sponsored by the Art Union of London in 1860 to illustrate the Idylls.

 

George Hommel (American, 1901-1953). “Fay Wray, Paramount player, as ‘The Lady of Shalott’ by Tennyson.” Photograph with nine lines from Tennyson’s poem on the back.

One of the finest studio and stills photographers of his day, Hommel began his career as an assistant cameraman to silent film director Edwin Carewe. Much in demand by studios such as Paramount and Republic, he served as a stills photographer on many memorable films including The Wizard of Oz and Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight. (There is no record of “The Lady of Shalott” with Fay Wray ever being produced.)

 

Attributed to Ford Madox Brown (British, 1821-1893). The Lady of Shalott. A large oil painting bearing Brown’s monogram.

Although best known as a painter of moral historical subjects, Brown was a multi-talented artist who also designed furniture and stained glass. A founding partner of William Morris’s design company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., he is often associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. A tutor to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and friend to William Holman Hunt, Brown influenced the “Brotherhood” for whom he served as a mentor, but he was never an official member of the movement. (Although this painting bears Brown’s monogram and is consistent with his style and subject matter, its authenticity cannot be absolutely confirmed. Thus, the work is considered “attributed” to Brown.)

 

All text for Visualizing Camelot © by Alan Lupack and Barbara Tepa Lupack, 2023-2024.