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A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Toby Edward Rosenthal
American, 1848–1917

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.


On View, Gallery 161


Arts of the Americas


Toby Edward Rosenthal




United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


Signed, lower right: "Toby E. Rosenthal Munich. 1874"


97.9 × 158.8 cm (38 9/16 × 62 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Maurice Rosenfeld

Reference Number


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