This is considered the most impressive of all of the artist's Ophelia paintings, the red hair being particularly typical of his work and also the clothing being tighter to her body and somewhat more pretty. The model's dress is fairly plain, in the main, but around her sleeves and waist are some stunning touches of detail. One feels a part of a Shakespeare play when we enter this painting, feeling an intimate connection with this young women who relaxed alone within a forest or large garden. The artist loved to incorporate the greenery of the UK countryside within his work and in this example a small pond with lilies sits behind this innocent beauty.
The foot of her elaborate dress features more of the same flourishes found on the other trims of her outfit but with an additional Lion motif. This powerful creature has many different symbolic meanings and so a further delve into the work o Shakespeare maybe required in order to understand just quite why the artist added it here, beyond just aesthetic value. Such details in Waterhouse's career would normally be done so with a reason in mind, be it inline with a mythical tale or classic British poem. His only real moment of visual expression without any real direction would be the backgrounds to his work which was a plethora of native trees and shrubery, often with meadows of wild flowers which fitted his narrative of classical innocence and beauty.
Ophelia has several recently-collected flowers lying on her legs. This was a way of continuing the theme of innocence and youth. It is worth noting how this artist portrayed this character as compared to John Everett Millais in his world-famous Ophelia painting. In that scene she has the same level of beauty, but in a sadder, more tragic delivery. That artist went to extraordinary lengths in preparation in order to create the heights of theme that this painting brought, and it is likely that Waterhouse did the same with study drawings of his own prior to completing this oil painting.