'The Lady of Shalott', Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A man leans over a woman lying on the floor

Illustration from 'Poems by Alfred Tennyson', Wood engraving by Dalziel brothers after Rossetti's design, published 1857, 9.4 x 8cm, Stephen Calloway

Richly clad, Sir Launcelot leans over the Lady's body as it floats down the river in the barge, lit by flickering candles and a torch held by an unseen figure above. The contrast between the tiny figures of courtiers and the daring close-up of the principal figures adds to the mood of strangeness.

The composition may have been suggested by a medieval manuscript illumination from the 14th century 'Lancelot du Lac' in the British Museum.