Artist: John William Waterhouse
Born: 6 April 1849 Rome, Italy
Nationality: English
Movement: Pre-Raphaelite
Died: 10 February 1917 London, England

John William Waterhouse, 1849 – 1917

John William Waterhouse, known as Nino to family and friends, was a painter of classical, literary and historical subjects and is particularly known for his depictions of women from Ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.

Waterhouse was born in Rome to English parents, both painters. He enrolled in the Royal Academy of Art when he moved to London. He began exhibiting at the RAA summer exhibitions, focussing on large canvas works including scenes from daily life and the mythology of ancient Greece.

Waterhouse’s early works were more classical in nature, often in the spirit of Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton. In 1874, his painting, ‘Sleep and his Half-brother Death’, was exhibited at the RAA with remarkable success and he continued to exhibit every year until 1916.

Waterhouse went from strength to strength in the London art scene and in 1876 his piece ‘After the Dance’ was given prime position in the summer exhibition.

Waterhouse married the artist Esher Kenworthy in 1883, and in 1895 he was elected to full Academician. He taught at St. John’s Wood Art School and was a member of St. John’s Wood Art Club. He also served on the Royal Academy Council.

Waterhouse died of cancer on 10 February 1917 and his grave is located at Kensal Green Cemetery, London, UK. His work is currently housed by several British galleries and private collections.

Sleep and his Half-brother Death, 1874

‘Sleep and his Half-brother Death’ (1874, Oil on canvas) is Waterhouse’s first painting exhibited for the Royal Academy. It was painted after both his younger brothers died of tuberculosis.

It is a reference to the Greek gods Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death) who were brothers in Greek mythology. In the painting, the brothers are in similar poses with Hypnos bathed in light and Thanatos shadowed in darkness, representing Sleep and Death respectively.

The painting is currently housed in a private collection.

After the Dance, 1876

‘After the Dance’ (1876, Oil on canvas) is considered one of the great masterpieces of Waterhouse and took the art world by storm at the 1876 RAA summer exhibition.

It is a romantic depiction of daily life in Ancient Greece. The two dancers are relaxing in the atrium of a house they have been performing in. Waterhouse has used a quiet richness of colour to capture the essence of the calming down after strenuous activity.

The painting is currently housed in a private collection.

The Siren, 1900

‘The Siren’ (1900, Oil on canvas) depicts a scene of sirens from Greek mythology.

The siren has the sailor entranced by her music and song, his eyes are locked into hers as he drowns in her magic. The waters are rough and wild, the rocks are like walls and together they give the sense of entrapment and doom as the sailor is lured to his death.

The painting is currently housed in a private collection.

The Crystal Ball, 1902

‘The Crystal Ball’ (1902, Oil on canvas) is one of two paintings Waterhouse put into the RAA summer exhibition of 1902.

In this painting, Waterhouse uses circular shapes to instil an air of magic and lines, horizontal and vertical, along with circular arches depicting the influence of the Italian Renaissance as opposed to the popular Gothic points and corners of the Victorian era. The woman appears contemplative in the crystal ball implying the supernatural yet the dark shadowiness of the view from the window along with the skull on the table give a sense of the macabre.

The painting is currently housed in a private collection.

The Soul of the Rose, 1908

‘The Soul of the Rose’ (1908, Oil on canvas) is one of Waterhouse’s best-known works and resonates lost or unrequited love.

Unlike much of Waterhouse’s work, it is not a scene from mythology or legend. However, it does incorporate the sense of sensuality and femininity that he often portrayed in his women subjects. The warm palette of colours evokes the senses with summer. The facial expression of the woman with her eyes closed and face slightly turned away give the impression that she is lost in her own thoughts.

The painting is currently housed in a private collection

Portfolio Timeline

The Slave, 1872, Private Collection
Undine, 1872, Location Unknown
Gone, But Not Forgotten, 1873, Private Collection
The Unwelcome Companion – A Street Scene in Cairo, 1873, Towneley Hall Art Gallery, Burnley, UK
In the Peristyle, 1874, Rochdale Art Gallery, Rochdale, UK
La Fileuse, 1874, Private Collection
Sleep and His Half-Brother Death, 1874, Private Collection
Miranda, 1875, Private Collection
Two Little Italian Girls by a Village, 1875, Private Collection
Portrait of a Young Woman, 1875-78, Private Collection
After the Dance, 1876, Private Collection
A Sick Child Brought into the Temple of Aesculapius, 1877, Private Collection
The Remorse of the Emperor Nero After the Murder of his Mother, 1878, Private Collection
Dolce Far Niente, 1879, Private Collection
Offerings, 1879, Private Collection
A Flower Stall, 1880, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
The Household Gods, 1880, Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland
Diogenes, 1882, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Summer, 1882, Private Collection
The Favourites of Emperor Honorius, 1883, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Consulting the Oracle, 1884, Tate, London. UK
A Byway: Ancient Rome, 1884, Location Unknown
Good Neighbours, 1885, Location Unknown
Saint Eulalia, 1885, Tate, London, UK
Esther Kenworthy Waterhouse, 1885, Sheffield City Art Galleries, Sheffield, UK
Resting, 1885, Private Collection
A Flower Market, Old Rome, 1886, Private Collection
The Magic Circle, 1886, Tate, London, UK
Cleopatra, 1888, Private Collection
The Lady of Shallot, 1888, Tate, London, UK
Ophelia, 1889, Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection
A Roman Offering, 1890, Unknown Location
The Orange Gatherers, 1890, Private Collection
Flora, 1890, Private Collection
At Capri, 1890, Location Unknown
Arranging Flowers, 1890, Location Unknown
Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses, 1891, Oldham Art Gallery, Oldham, UK
Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
Circe Invidiosa, 1892, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Danaё, 1892, Location Unknown – Stolen
A Hamadyad, 1893, City of Plymouth Art Gallery, Plymouth, UK
Gathering Summer Flowers in a Devonshire Garden, 1893-1910, Private Collection
A Naiad, 1893, Private Collection
La Belle Dame Sans Merci, 1893, Location Unknown
Ophelia, 1894, Private Collection
The Lady of Shallot, 1894, City Art Gallery, Leeds, UK
Field Flowers, 1894, Location Unknown
Mrs Charles Newton-Robinson, 1894, Location Unknown
Phyllis, Younger Daughter of EA Waterlow. Esq, 1895, Private Collection
St Cecilia, 1895, Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection
The Shrine, 1895, Private Collection
Hylas and the Nymphs, 1896, Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester, UK
Pandora, 1896, Private Collection
Mariana in the South, 1897, Private Collection
Ariadne, 1898, Private Collection
Flora and the Zephyrs, 1898, Private Collection
Juliet, 1898, Private Collection
The Awakening of Adonis, 1900, Private Collection
Spring (the Flower Picker), 1900, Private Collection
The Siren, 1900, Private Collection
A Mermaid, 1900, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK
Destiny, 1900, Towneley Hall Art Gallery, Burnley, UK
Miss Margaret Henderson, 1900, Private Collection
Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus, 1900, Private Collection
The Lady Clare, 1900, Private Collection
The Crystal Ball, 1902, Private Collection
The Missal, 1902, Location Unknown
Boreas, 1903, Private Collection
Echo and Narcissus, 1903, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK
Psyche Opening the Golden Box, 1903, Private Collection
Windflowers, 1903, Private Collection
Danaides, 1904, Private Collection
Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid’s Garden, 1904, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, UK
Lamia, 1905, Private Collection
The Danaides, 1906, Aberdeen Art Gallery, Scotland
Jason and Medea, 1907, Private Collection
Phyllis and Demopoӧn, 1907, Location Unknown
Apollo and Daphne, 1908, Private Collection
The Bouquet, 1908, Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall
Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, 1908, Private Collection
The Soul of the Rose, 1908, Private Collection
Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, 1909, Odon Wagner Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Mrs AP Henderson, 1909, Private Collection
Thisbe, 1909, Private Collection
Veronica, 1909, Private Collection
The Necklace, 1909, Private Collection
Woman Picking Flowers, 1909 – 14, Private Collection
Ophelia, 1910, Private Collection
Spring Spreads One Green Lap of Flowers, 1910, Location Unknown
Camellias, 1910, Private Collection
The Rose Bower, 1910, Private Collection
Vanity, 1910, Private Collection
Circe (the Sorceress), 1911, Private Collection
Listening to my Sweet Pipings, 1911, Private Collection
Miss Betty Pollock, 1911, Private Collection
The Charmer, 1911, Location Unknown
Circe, 1911, Private Collection
Maidens Picking Flowers by a Stream, 1911, Private Collection
Mrs Charles Schreiber, 1912, Private Collection
Narcissus, 1912, Private Collection
Penelope and the Suitors, 1912, City of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Collections, Aberdeen, Scotland
Sweet Summer, 1912, Private Collection
A Song of Springtime, 1913, Private Collection
The Annunciation, 1914, Private Collection
The Love Philtre, 1914, Private Collection
The Mystic Wood, 1914 – 17, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
Dante and Beatrice, 1915, Dahesh Museum, New York, USA
A Tale from Decameron, 1916, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK
I am Half-Sick of Shadows, said the Lady of Shallot, 1916, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
Miranda – the Tempest, 1916, Private Collection
The Enchanted Garden, 1916, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK
Tristram and Isolde with the Potion, 1916, Private Collection
Gathering Almond Blossoms, 1916, Private Collection
Tristan and Isolde, 1916, Private Collection
Fair Rosamund, 1917, Private Collection

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