The artist paid particular attention to the facial features of the model despite having a great wealth of talent and experience in portraiture. Through comparison of the drawings with the final painting, you will be able to understand some of the elements of the process undertaken by Waterhouse, including amendments that he made prior to beginning this complex piece. The scene is inspired by a Tennyson poem, as with many of his paintings at this time.
The ballad was published in 1842 and tackles subjects such as romance, marriage and class. Waterhouse would sometimes produce multiple compositions from a single poem though he also took in ancient mythology in other pieces. Lady Clare is told of her true parentage and is unsure whether or not to reveal this to her betroved, who is now from a much higher class than her. Class remains a highly significant element of British society in the present day but was even more significant during Victorian times.
The artist features some beautiful detail on the model's dress, with flared sleeves, a thin belt with metalwork an a light undergarment which is displayed around the neckline. He completes the look of innocence with a small flower in her hair and would always add colour to the cheeks to continue the feeling of beauty, charm and purity. Pale skin was common for all of his models, many of whom he used on several occassions.