Lily Briscoe finds comfort only in her painting as her world is turned upside down in the chaos of Mrs. Ramsey’s death. Lily begins the portrait of her mentor, friend and idol at the beginning of Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse, portraying her as the perfect mother. As the chaos in the household intensifies Lily is drawn away from her painting and her idealized view of the world. She only completes it once order is restored. She observes a ship, deep in the horizon, carrying a changed Mr. Ramsey and his children and thinks that “nothing stays, all changes; but not words, not paint”. Despite the turmoil of the past and even the changing present Lily’s ideal, her true version of beauty, is preserved.
Like her portrait displays, Mrs. Ramsey also enjoys a life without chaos. She is a socialite who maintains her livelihood through dinner parties and having guests at the house. The beauty of Mrs. Ramsey is that, even with an absentee husband and countless house guests, she maintains the order and cleanliness of a home.