La Belle Dame sans Merci 1893

Date: 1893
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 112 x 81 cm
Location: Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany

One of the finest works of pre-Raphaelite art, La Belle Dame sans Merci 1893 by English painter John William Waterhous portrays the beautiful heroine of a John Keats poem. The scene is both beautiful and brutal. Waterhouse captures the wistful beauty of this woman in an intense painting.

The painting is a perfect example of his preoccupation with love. The story revolves around a fair maiden who condemns a knight to a terrible fate. The fairy who makes this possible also influenced the iconography of the early 19th century femme fatale. The poem continues to be referenced in various works of literature, art, and music.