Miranda in Art

The famous Pre-Raphaelite artist would produce several versions on this fictional character, both in sketches and completed oil paintings. This particular work was completed on a board and displayed at the Royal Academy in the same year of it's conception. This respected artist had already exhibited his work here on many seperate occassions, with the Pre-Raphaelite style proving popular within the UK at that time.

The key difference between this and his earlier versions of Miranda is that you will find in this piece that the storm is well underway and produces a frightening scene in the very background. Miranda looks on as a ship is sliced in two by the powerful waves that thrust it into the rocks. The whole atmosphere is one of power and ferocity as nature shows its frightening capabilities.


Her own attire is also swilling around in the wind although she still manages to appear elegant and calm. The earlier version from 1875 is much more subtle and conservative, perhaps reflecting that by the end of his career Waterhouse was very confident in his style and more willing to be bold.

Miranda has long, curly red hair. It runs over her right shoulder, before being flown around by the gusty wind. She is dressed in a full length dress which looks of thick material to protect her from the cold. There are also some touches of red embroidery around her sleeves, which can just about be made out around her left hand.

She is turned away from the viewer, giving her the same angle of vision as us. We are therefore looking at this storm from her angle, helping us to understand her experience. She is stood alongside a large, flat boulder. Around her is a series of craggy rocks which is unwelcoming in its mood. This is increased by the violent waves which crash around in the background.


Waterhouse was an artist is frequently revisited previous inspirations, adding a new twist to the composition or style, whilst retaining much of his original creation. The various photographs available online of the original painting vary greatily in colour balance, some darker than others, whilst many having a more orange tint to Miranda's beautiful hair than some others.

Viewing the original with your own eyes is really the only way to fully appreciate this painting and be sure of it's true palette of colour. Followers of John William Waterhouse will probably already have a better idea of the colour schemes that he used throughout his career and therefore can work out how the original actually looks in reality.

Waterhouse's Choice of Models

John William Waterhouse, in a similar manner to the Pre-Raphaelite Movement with whom he shared so many similarities, had a certain type of model which appeared throughout his oeuvre. A number of them had red hair, as found with Miranda here, but most would be brunettes. He desired the classical, feminine look and would re-use his favourite muses.

Large Image of Miranda - The Tempest

This delightful painting is included below in a larger format. This will enable you to see more of the specific details, including the charming drapery added to the main figure's clothing. There is also the splashing waves in the background which rise into the air, after crashing into the rocky landscape.

Miranda - The Tempest in Detail John William Waterhouse Miranda - The Tempest