Arthur Hughes - Ophelia
The painting depicts Shakespeare's 'Ophelia' in Hamlet advancing from a log towards water, in the centre of the painting


In contrast to lighter versions of  Ophelia, such as Millais's painting showing her floating in a delicately embroidered dress surrounded by lush green plant life, Hughes's painting has a much darker setting: the dark swampy woodland reflects Ophelia’s sadness as she sits forlorn by the water ahead of her impending death. The purples and blues of the background transition into the dark green surrounding her and the algae covered water in the foreground. Ophelia herself, dropping flowers into the water, serves as the source of light in the painting, her pale skin and plain white dress, in the centre of the image, but her gaze is set on the water, elongated by her arm pointing towards it, leaving the viewer in no doubt about her intentions.

Associated Place(s)


  • Arthur Hughes

Image Date: