About this artwork
Toby Edward Rosenthal found inspiration for this composition in Idylls of the King, a 19th-century version of the Arthurian legends written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. In the poem, Elaine dies of a broken heart after being spurned by Sir Lancelot; Rosenthal’s painting depicts Elaine’s postmortem voyage from Astolat to Camelot: “In her right hand the lily, in her left / The letter—all her bright hair streaming down.” Rosenthal’s artistic choices reflect the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, a group of English artists who favored highly naturalistic details, richly colored surfaces, and subjects drawn from medieval literary sources. After it was purchased by an American patron, Rosenthal’s work sparked Elaine hysteria: clubs were formed in her honor, dirges and waltzes were composed, and copies of Idylls of the King sold out in bookstores.
- Toby Edward Rosenthal
- United States
- Oil on canvas
- Signed, lower right: "Toby E. Rosenthal Munich. 1874"
- 97.9 × 158.8 cm (38 9/16 × 62 1/2 in.)
- Gift of Mrs. Maurice Rosenfeld