Moxon's Illustrated Tennyson
1857, the publisher Edward Moxon put together
an illustrated collection of Tennyson's
poetry for which a number of the Pre-Raphaelite
artists drew illustrations. William Holman
Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti created the
two illustrations below for The Lady of
Shalott (NAEL 8, 2.1114).
Hunt's engraving illustrates the following
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
Hunt shows the Lady imprisoned by the tapestry
she has been weaving and entangled in its
threads. Lancelot, whose riding by has led
her to look directly at the world outside
and bring the curse upon herself, is pictured
in the broken mirror behind her. Tennyson
objected to this feature of Hunt's illustration
when it was published because his lines do
not have the Lady entangled in the way Hunt
pictures. Instead, the lines before the ones
Hunt illustrates read, "She left the
web, she left the loom."
later made a large oil painting from his
design entitled The Lady of Shalott.
Rossetti chose to illustrate the last lines
of the poem, when Lancelot looks at the Lady
of Shalott on the boat on which she has floated
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."
It is interesting to compare Rossetti's
illustration of The Lady of Shalott with
his illustration of Tennyson's Morte
d'Arthur. (The 1842 poem is the basis
of the last of the Idylls of the King,
The Passing of Arthur [NAEL 8, 2.1201].)
Both illustrations picture onlookers gazing
at a dead figure in a boat, but the genders
are reversed. In The Lady of Shalott, Lancelot
gazes at the Lady; in the Morte d'Arthur, the
three queens watch over the dying Arthur.
Both engravings show the flat, patterned,
medieval style of Rossetti's early work.