Ophelia Weaving Her Garlands thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Paintings, Room 82, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries

Ophelia Weaving Her Garlands

Oil Painting
1842 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This depiction of Shakespeare's tragic heroine Ophelia was praised for its psychological insight. The madness and death of Ophelia were popular subjects for painters in the later 19th century. In Shakespeare's play Ophelia drowns herself in a river, driven mad by Hamlet's rejection of her. The painting was exhibited beside lines adapted from Hamlet:

There is a willow grows ascaunt the brook
That shews his hoar leaves in the glossy stream
There with fantastic garland did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples.

The more than 30 types of flowers in this picture--and their symbolism--would have been familiar to Victorian viewers: the flowers surrounding Ophelia, and those in the garland she wears on her head, refer to constancy, love, hopelessness, and mourning; she wears a ring a grasses, relating to her longing for Hamlet. She holds a poppy-bud, symbolic of death.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
oil on panel Frame: 19th century gilded composition frame glazed with low reflective glass
Brief Description
Oil painting entitled 'Ophelia Weaving her Garlands' by Richard Redgrave. Great Britain, 1842.
Physical Description
Oil painting
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 76.2cm
  • Estimate width: 63.5cm
  • Frame height: 102cm
  • Frame width: 89cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, Ronald Parkinson, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1990
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
'Richd Redgrave 1842' (Signed and dated by the artist in white, lower right)
Credit line
Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857
Object history
Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857
Subjects depicted
Literary ReferenceHamlet by William Shakespeare
Summary
This depiction of Shakespeare's tragic heroine Ophelia was praised for its psychological insight. The madness and death of Ophelia were popular subjects for painters in the later 19th century. In Shakespeare's play Ophelia drowns herself in a river, driven mad by Hamlet's rejection of her. The painting was exhibited beside lines adapted from Hamlet:



There is a willow grows ascaunt the brook

That shews his hoar leaves in the glossy stream

There with fantastic garland did she make

Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples.



The more than 30 types of flowers in this picture--and their symbolism--would have been familiar to Victorian viewers: the flowers surrounding Ophelia, and those in the garland she wears on her head, refer to constancy, love, hopelessness, and mourning; she wears a ring a grasses, relating to her longing for Hamlet. She holds a poppy-bud, symbolic of death.
Bibliographic References
  • Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, Ronald Parkinson, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1990, pp. 243-44
  • Evans, Mark et al. Vikutoria & Arubāto Bijutsukan-zō : eikoku romanshugi kaigaten = The Romantic tradition in British painting, 1800-1950 : masterpieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Japan : Brain Trust, 2002
Collection
Accession Number
FA.171[O]

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record createdMay 8, 2003
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