For such an important painting, Millais did only a few preparatory sketches.
- Study for the head of Elizabeth Siddal (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, pencil 9x12 inches, see above).
- A finished sketch of Ophelia (Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, see above).
- A watercolour version of the study of the head painted in 1865/6 exists in a private collection.
- An oil study Head of Ophelia (with Wreath), 1852. This is possibly the picture sold at the auctioneers, Christie’s, as part of the BG Windus sale on 19 July, 1862, (its current whereabouts are unknown).
In 1847, Millais produced an oil sketch of The Artist Attending the Mourning of a Young Girl, shown above, which can be compared to Ophelia. The sketch represents an event in Millais’s life when he was sent for by people he did not know, but who knew that he was a young artist.
He was asked to draw a portrait of a girl in her coffin before her burial. The scene moved him so much that when he got home he made this sketch showing himself being asked to draw the girl’s portrait.