The early works of Waterhouse were of a classical style and were heavily influenced by artists such as Leighton and Alma-Tadema. He made several trips to Italy where he found inspiration for his paintings and began to produce large canvases using classical compositions and the Pre-Raphaelite concepts of beautiful women who were ultimately tragic or powerful. He was active several decades after the break-up of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which had seen its heyday in the mid-nineteenth century, leading him to be known as "the modern Pre-Raphaelite". Borrowing stylistic influences not only from the earlier Pre-Raphaelites but also from his contemporaries, the Impressionists, his artworks were known for their depictions of women from both ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.
This painting is based on The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Waterhouse created three versions of the subject; the first (1888) depicts the Lady setting out for Camelot in her boat; the second (1894) portrays the climactic moment when she sees Lancelot in the mirror and turns to look out the window at him. Waterhouse's portrayal of the Lady in this entry as a wistful, young princess in a luxurious tower reveals his underlying interest in the subject of frustrated or unrequited love; and in this work, the third version (1916), he depicts the Lady of Shalott at the moment when she sees the "young lovers lately wed" and becomes dissatisfied with her isolated life in the tower.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-708: card size 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)