Portrait of doomed love conquers British public's hearts

Thu Aug 8, 2013 10:36am EDT
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By Amritha John

LONDON (Reuters) - "The Lady of Shalott", a painting by John William Waterhouse of a young woman lamenting unrequited love, has been chosen as the British public's favorite artwork, soon to be displayed among other masterpieces across the nation's billboards.

The public's top choice illustrates a section of a poem with the same name by British writer Alfred Lord Tennyson, which describes the Lady of Shalott sitting in a boat "like some bold seer in a trance".

In second place came John Everett Millais's "Ophelia", depicting the tragic character from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" floating down a river before she drowns.

Francis Bacon's 1949 "Head VI" followed in third place, an unsettling painting based on a 1650 portrait of Pope Innocent IX by Spanish painter Diego Velazquez.

The list was compiled based on 30,000 "likes" on Facebook from the public, who voted for their favorite pieces of British art as part of the "Art Everywhere" project.

Reproductions of the top 57 pieces will be splashed across 22,000 poster sites in cities, towns and villages across Britain from 12-25 August.

"Art is for everyone, and everyone who has access to it will benefit from it. This project is amazing and gives the public a voice and an opportunity to choose what they want to see on their streets," Damien Hirst, one of Britain's most commercially successful artists, said in a statement from Art Everywhere.

Ninety percent of British adults are expected to see the pieces on show, according to the project's website.   Continued...