Rosenthal and Ophelia

Ophelia 1851-2 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894

Ophelia by John Everett Millais dated 1851–1852

The painting by Sir John Everett Millais a British artist was completed around 1851 – 1852. Depicting the death of Ophelia singing while floating in a river just before she drowns, pulled down by the weight of her dress made heavy from the water. The scene is described in Act IV, Scene VII of Hamlet in a speech by Queen Gertrude and is not seen onstage. Ophelia’s pose with her open arms and upwards gaze much like Rosenthal’s during her prayer also resembles traditional portrayals of saints or martyrs but has also been interpreted as erotic.

gif by @muthur9000

Rosenthal’s prayer is actually the beginning of the Shema, a central prayer in Judaism: “Shema Israel, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad.” It means, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” Traditionally, the Shema is recited every morning and evening. – @graymalkin28 (Sept 24th, 2017)

The death of Ophelia sprouted many interpretations by artists. Ridley Scott’s decision to keep all female deaths off scene is an ongoing homage to Dan O’Bannon’s vision to only go after the men in the audience, although we may catch a glimpse of the impending doom we are not present to watch it.



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