How and where did Millais paint Ophelia and how do we know?
What condition is it in and what can we see
under the frame?
Where has Ophelia travelled?
What do all the flowers symbolise?
Read Millais's diary extracts and letters to friends,
learn about the suffering of his model and be inspired to paint your own version of
Test your knowledge by having a go at our quiz and tell us
what you think about Millais's Ophelia.
Throughout this site there are small images which you can click on to view larger versions.
Ophelia was part of the original Henry Tate Gift in 1894 and remains one
of the most popular Pre-Raphaelite works in the Tate's collection.
Shakespeare was a frequent source of inspiration for Victorian painters.
Millais's image of the tragic death of Ophelia, as she falls into the stream and drowns, is one of the best-known illustrations
from Shakespeare's play Hamlet.
John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti were the founding members of a
group of artists called the Pre-Raphaelites formed in 1848.
They rejected the art of the Renaissance in favour of art before Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo
The Pre-Raphaelites focused on serious and significant subjects and were best known for painting subjects from modern life
and literature often using historical costumes.
They painted directly from nature itself, as truthfully as possible and with incredible attention to detail.
They were inspired by the advice of John Ruskin, the English critic and art theorist in Modern Painters (1843-60).
He encouraged artists to 'go to Nature in all singleness of heart.rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing.'
The Pre-Raphaelites developed techniques to exploit the luminosity of pure colour and define forms in
their quest for achieving 'truth to nature'.
They strongly believed that respectable divine art could only be achieved if the artist focused on the truth and what was
real in the natural world.
Researched and written by Harriet Curnow, Curator: Schools Projects, Tate Britain. With written contributions from John Anderson and Stephen Hackney
(Tate Conservation), Rebecca Virag (Interpretation Assistant) and the London Wildlife Trust.
Photography and images courtesy of Tate Conservation (Jacqueline Ridge and Joyce Townsend), Tate Photography, Prints and Drawings Room,
Marcus Raven from Westminster Kingsway College and external institutions where credited.
With particular thanks to Tate Britain Interpretation and Education (Sarah Hyde, Tina Melbourne and Miquette Roberts), Tate Digital Programmes
(Sarah Tinsley, Naomi Korn, Alex Musson, Will Renny and Hugh Williams), the Library and Archive and Tate Conservation.