Elaine

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

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.

Date:

1874

Artist:

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

American Art, Gallery 161

Artist

Toby Edward Rosenthal

Title

Elaine

Origin

United States

Date

1874

Medium

Oil on canvas

Inscriptions

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

Dimensions

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

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Maurice Rosenfeld

Reference Number

1917.3

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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