Exploring an Artwork that Teems With Life and Loss

A visually rich painting rooted in literature

Christopher P Jones
7 min readFeb 12, 2024

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Ophelia (1851) by John Everett Millais. Oil on canvas. 76.2 × 111.80 cm. Tate, London. Image source Wikimedia Commons

The story behind this distinctive painting has become legendary in the annals of art history.

To recreate the watery scene, British artist John Everett Millais persuaded his model Elizabeth Siddal to pose fully clothed while submerged in a bathtub brimming with water.

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