"Do not forsake your duties" is the overall message Hunt wanted to convey in his painting. The Lady, heroine of a Tennyson poem, is entangled in the threads of her weaving which she has to abandon because she glanced out the forbidden window. The elaborate frame Hunt designed alludes to the tragic end of the Lady; the urn on the base is for her ashes.
This is the last painting Hunt completed, having spent nearly twenty years perfecting each detail. In order to achieve the highly finished style, Hunt used pure colors over a white background, a fourteenth-century practive adopted by the Pre-Raphaelites.
William Holman Hunt
The Lady of Shalott, c. 1890-1905
Oil on canvas, 74 1/8 x 57 5/8 in. (188.3 x 146.4 cm)
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1961-470
11 x 17 in. when assembled.