Ferdinand Lured by Ariel

WAG 273


This is an unusual acquisition for George Holt, who tended to prefer highly finished works to sketches. The subject is from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’: the magical sprite Ariel, servant to Prospero, leads the shipwrecked Ferdinand to his master. Ariel holds a seashell and is carried through the air by weird spirits playing music. This is a study for a much more finished painting, shown at the Royal Academy in 1850, in which the light and fluid treatment of Millais's sketch was replaced by minutely depicted Pre-Raphaelite detail.