This is Shakespeare’s tragic heroine, Ophelia, who’s driven mad when her lover, Hamlet, murders her father. Shortly afterwards, while out picking flowers, she lets herself slip into a stream and drowns. She’s depicted here by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Millais, who aimed to make his work as ‘true to life’ and sincere as possible. To achieve this Millais spent an entire summer working on the banks of the river Hogsmill in Surrey. He paid extraordinary attention to detail, so much so, that we can recognise the individual types of flower. But as in an early Renaissance painting these flowers also carry symbolic meaning. The poppy by Ophelia’s right hand represents death and the daisies next to it are for her innocence. Millais was no less thorough when it came to painting Ophelia herself which he did the following winter in London. For the sake of accuracy he had his model pose in a bath full of water but being winter she almost caught her death with cold. You might recognize her as Lizzie Siddal, the red-haired muse of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. She was the lover and later the wife of Millais’ friend and fellow artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and a significant artist in her own right. But like Ophelia, she died young, at thirty-three, from an overdose of laudanum.