Sir John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896) opened up new terrain in this scene from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The shipwrecked prince Ferdinand can hear, but not see, the sprite Ariel, who strums a stringed abalone shell and lifts the hero’s hat to sing in his ear. Determined to be true to nature, the young artist took eye-catching color and minutely observed detail to unconventional limits. He adopted the novel approach painting the background outdoors, zealously delineating “every blade of grass and leaf distinct.” By contrast, Ariel and the noisemaking imps are whimsically fantastical. Exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1850, Ferdinand Lured By Ariel proclaimed the insurgent ambitions of Millais and his friends in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, so named because their innovative style took inspiration from art made before Raphael (1483 – 1520).
Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.