Ferdinand Lured by Ariel is a painting by John Everett Millais, created in 1849-50. The painting depicts an episode from Act I, Scene II of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, showing Ferdinand listening to Ariel singing the lyric “Full fathom five thy father lies.” This painting is one of the early Pre-Raphaelite works of Millais and highlights the PRB’s innovative style.
The Pre-Raphaelite movement rejected conventional artistic norms and advocated a return to pre-Renaissance techniques using bright colors, intricate details, and vivid realism. To enhance the already highly saturated colors in this piece, Millais painted on a pure white ground. He used oil paints applied thickly directly from the tube to create textural effects.
The painting was exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1850 and Sudley House in Liverpool holds a smaller version of it. Additionally, The Makins Collection also holds studies for this artwork. Today it can be viewed online at Art UK and USEUM. Overall, “Ferdinand Lured by Ariel” represents a significant example of Pre-Raphaelite art that stylistically elevates Shakespeare’s tale into another period with hyper-realistic flourishes while telling its own unique story through creative license with composition and color selection.