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She Watch'd My Crest Among Them All
(The Ballad of Oriana)
(2011)
30" X 40"
Dani Lachuk  
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This painting illustrates a verse from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, The Ballad of Oriana:

She stood upon the castle wall,
Oriana;
She watch’d my crest among them all,
Oriana;

The story is told from the viewpoint of Oriana's betrothed who pines for her death at his hands. During the battle, Oriana stands on the castle wall to watch her lover fight in the field below. When confronted by a foeman, he mis-fires an arrow, piercing the heart of Oriana instead. The poem continues to describe the battle, through which her betrothed lives, to continue his life in despair without his bride.

While researching this subject, I found only two illustrations by William Holman Hunt, and one painting by Frederick Sandys that depict Oriana. I have referenced Sandys' work in replicating the pattern in his Oriana's cloak onto my Oriana's dress. In my painting, her costume makes another deliberate art reference to Edmund Blair Leighton. Though unrelated to the story of Oriana, I discovered through general studies of Leighton's work that he used the same style and colour of yellow dress with the same white underdress in no less than five different paintings throughout his lifetime; my first discovery being Stitching the Standard.

I appreciated Leighton's dedication and obvious admiration of the garment's style and colour, and so chose to depict the early 13th century style in my Ballad of Oriana. While the majority of the knights' armour fits with this time period, I have taken 'movie' artist liberties and included some late period armour for the sake of variety. I transformed the castle 'wall' that Oriana is said to have stood upon into a balcony so that the viewer can see the goings-on over the angled banister. The castle and outer wall are creations based on compilations of personal photos taken of Dover castle and the Tower of London. The landscape is also in reference to England's white-grey skies, muted green foliage, and the bleakness of flat light, resulting in an overall desaturated, lighter colour palette with less dominant contrast.