The character of Ophelia comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The daughter of Polonius. Due to Hamlet’s actions she ends up in a state of madness that ultimately leads to her drowning. When Millais painted Ophelia he used the Hogsmill River, in south-west London as the scenery. It is an icon of the pre-Raphaelite era.

John Everett Millais – Ophelia, 1852

Millais then worked on the female figure for Ophelia, with a series of drawings, the pose being depicted below.

John Everett Millais – Study for Ophelia, 1852

The curious thing about a famous image is how it is translated by others. Bryan Organ took the work and abstracted it to the simplest forms with two lithographs.

Bryan Organ – Ophelia, 1973. Lithograph
Bryan Organ – Ophelia, 1973. Lithograph

Years later the photographer Tom Hunter recreated the painting as a photograph in his series Life and Death in Hackney. An amazing photograph in real life it adds something of our time with her situated behind an industrial estate.

Tom Hunter – The Way Home, 2001