I have a weakness for paintings with mirrors in them. Preparing for the Ball by Emma Sandys is a perfect example. According to Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists by Jan Marsh and Pamela Gerrish Nunn, this painting has been known by more than one title: Preparing for the Ball, Before the Mirror and The Lady of Shalott. Does she look as if she’s preparing for a ball? Her face is somber to me.
Once again, the fashion details appeal to me. The rich embroidery at the bottom of her velvet gown, the gorgeous red wrap. She is beautifully coiffed and dressed, lending credence to the theory that she may be preparing for a ball after all. Still, even in her finery she doesn’t seem happy, leading me to believe that beneath the surface, she has an interesting tale to share. I feel that she’s reflecting on more than her appearance.