Friday, August 24, 2012
John Everett Millais - Ferdinand Lured by Ariel
I'm just looking at pictures that will be in the forthcoming Tate exhibition. It illustrates Ferdinand's lines "Where should this music be? i' the air or the earth?". He is listening to Ariel singing the lyric "Full fathom five thy father lies". Ariel is tipping Ferdinand's hat from his head, while Ferdinand holds on to its string and strains to hear the song. Ferdinand looks straight at Ariel, but the latter is invisible to him.
The painting was Millais' first attempt at the plein air Pre-Raphaelite style, which he did at Shotover Park near Oxford.
The Times (when it was first exhibited) condemned it as a "deplorable example of perverted taste". In 1998, when it seemed as though the painting might leave Britain to be sold in the USA, the columnist Kevin Myers, wrote that he would "put my foot through it" with "violent joy".