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My Favorite Artists and Their Art: John William Waterhouse

  • Sep 27, 2010
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I've been a great admirer of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and their artistic style for a very long time now. Of all the artists associated with the movement, I think that John William Waterhouse is probably my favorite. This is partly because Waterhouse was consistently brilliant in his creation of evocative scenes inspired by mythology, historical legend, and classic literature. However, while this aspect of his art appeals to me on an intellectual level, I find myself also drawn in by the delicate sense of bittersweet romance and unrequited love on an emotional level. Waterhouse was one of the last Pre-Raphaelite artists and yet his work overshadows many of the lesser known artists of the movement who came before him.
A Mermaid
J.W. Waterhouse knew how to create some of the most beautiful paintings of women ever and his take on the figures of myth and fairy tales are so stunningly gorgeous! Whenever I think of mermaids, this is the image that comes to mind. The skin tone, the hair, the eyes, the entire figure, is so delicately and beautifully rendered.
The Lady of Shalott
Waterhouse's depiction of the Lady of Shalott is just astonishingly beautiful. As I've mentioned before, every time that I see this painting I immediately am reminded of Lord Alfred Tennyson's poem.
A Naiad
This is a particularly nice painting that Waterhouse did as part of his Hylas works. Again he displays his mastery at evoking the majesty of nature as well as the beauty of the human form.
Lamia (Waterhouse Version I)
John William Waterhouse's original version of Lamia is a masterpiece and has a tenderness that later versions lacked.
Echo and Narcissus
Waterhouse had a wonderful habit of putting beautiful people in serene natural locations and this is a nice example of that. The eyes are quite expressive and I love Echo's look of longing.
J.W. Waterhouse's serene image of Ophelia from Hamlet, shortly before drowning herself in the river. One of the most bittersweet paintings I've seen.
Hylas and the Nymphs
One of the most haunting and alluring Pre-Raphaelite images ever. Waterhouse does a great job here with the facial expressions and I love his use of the blues and purples, which are so subtle and yet your eyes are drawn to them.
The Crystal Ball
Another gorgeous image. Waterhouse rarely used the color red and when he did, he made the best of it as seen here as well as in his Romeo and Juliet paintings. I also like the small, yet noticeable detail of the room being reflected upside-down in the crystal ball.
A Hamadryad
This painting featuring a hamadryad and a satyr is just wonderful. They really seem to be springing up from the ground like trees.
Circe Invidiosa
Despite the fact that this painting is taken from Greek myth, I for some reason have always associated it with Arthurian legends and the Lady of the Lake. The colors here are rather brighter than what one is used to seeing int Waterhouse's work, which only makes the over all image more memorable.
Lamia (Waterhouse Version II)
Waterhouse's second depiction of Lamia is quite nice aesthetically, but the character herself comes off as nothing more than vain and not at all tragic.
Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus
While I like the composition and the colors a great deal here, I find that the face is somehow distracted and not as commanding or alluring as it should be considering the scene.

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October 03, 2010
Interesting list, although I was not familiar with the name of the Artist all these Artworks are so familiar. The Pre-Raphaelites really knew how to create romantic images of women - I specially like The crystal ball where the Skull gives the young Beauty gazing into the ball a reminder of what's waithing for as all - Ha Ha.
October 02, 2010
Great idea to bring the painter to everybody's attention. All the more since books with good reproductions are not easy to find.
October 02, 2010
No, unfortunately coming across art books that focus on one specific artist or a specific movement isn't easy and when these books can be found they tend to be quite expensive. Luckily, many of these great paintings can be found on various websites where everyone can view them for free and appreciate their beauty.
September 30, 2010
#'s 2-4 and 7 always catches my eye.
September 30, 2010
I thought you also really liked #12...
September 30, 2010
oh, Yes! how could I miss the LAMIA?
September 30, 2010
Don't know. LOL!
September 28, 2010
I either saw several new paintings on this list or I'm a whole lot more senior moments. I have to say that I certainly love his work though. Thanks for bringing so much of it to us.
September 28, 2010
Nope, I added a whole lot of new ones from those art books I ordered before my birthday. The only paintings that I had used before were the two "Lamia" paintings, "The Lady of Shalott", "Hylas and the Nymphs", and "The Mermaid". The other 7 were new. Next up, Mexican surrealism followed by more Pre-Raphaelites.
September 28, 2010
Cool. Go to it!
September 28, 2010
I need art book funds. LOL! Seriously, there's some hold-up because I can't find some of the images I'm looking for online. The Pre-Raphaelites are pretty much covered since I have a lot of decent images for most of them except for some of the obscure Collier works and some of Burne-Jones' lesser known paintings, but the real trick is finding the specific surrealist paintings of Kahlo that I'm looking for.
September 28, 2010
Things are supposed to be so easy to find on the intenet, but that isn't always the case.
September 28, 2010
Especially with art and artists. I can't tell you how long I searched for a decent image of Magritte's "The Night Dress" and still I only came up with two fairly mediocre images.
September 28, 2010
I know how long you were looking for Secretariat for me and he's a pretty easy subject, and look how that turned out. it ain't as easy as it's supposed to be.
September 28, 2010
Especially when there are so many photos that come up under specific name searches that have nothing to do with the subject you're looking for. Earlier I did a search for Gloria Stuart photos and came up with a bunch of Megan Fox and Kirsten Dunst... ???
September 28, 2010
It's like that ad for the new search engine where everyone starts shouting it unrelated subjects when they hear a word.
September 28, 2010
Exactly, I saw a couple of watering cans and green houses when I was trying to find pictures of Waterhouse!
September 28, 2010
At least that was closer than Megan Fox.
September 28, 2010
I've also tried Dogpile and Bing.
September 27, 2010
Interesting list. I'm getting more familiar with a lot of your favorite pieces from your lists. Great job!
September 27, 2010
Thanks. Any artists you might want to do a list on?
September 27, 2010
Not anytime soon. I'm still behind on a slew of other reviews I want to finish first.
September 27, 2010
Well, if you do, I'll set up the topics.
September 27, 2010
Thanks for the offer. I will let you know. I want to finish the two Coraline reviews I've been working on as well as one on Midaq Alley. Are you online now? Did you want to chat?
September 27, 2010
I forgot all about those. LOL!
September 27, 2010
I haven't...lol...I'm just slow!!
September 28, 2010
Were you still working on those Night World reviews too? Looks like you'll be spending some quality time in alternate realities. I'm a little jealous.
September 28, 2010
Yup. Slowly but surely, lol. I just renewed that book and the Coraline book too. I don't have as much time to spend in the alternate realities as I would like because I have to get cracking on applications for school. :-P
September 28, 2010
Darn, our reality is no fun.
September 28, 2010
Nope. :(
September 28, 2010
Luckily, our reality does have red wine, which is making me very optimistic right now. : )
September 28, 2010
Yup. :)
September 28, 2010
It has this remarkable power to make even the gloomiest of days bright and cheerful. : )
September 28, 2010
Indeed. :)
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