In his painting of Sunny von Bulow, Dexter Dalwood draws poignant comparison between the New York socialite and Pre-Raphaelite representations of Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Plagued by depression and mental instability, Sunny slipped into an irreversible coma in 1980; her husband, art dealer Claus von Bulow, was initially convicted and later acquitted of attempted poisoning. Here, Dexter Dalwood portrays the heiress as an eternal beauty, trapped in a morbidly poetic slumber. Based on an 1852 painting by John Everett Millais, Dexter Dalwood weaves art-historical reference into contemporary popular conscience, adding gravitas and reverence of legacy to the transient limelight of today’s media culture.

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