John William


Waterhouse, John William (1849-1917) was an English painter. Early in his career he painted Greek and Roman subjects, but in the 1880s he turned to literary themes, painted in a distinctive, dreamily romantic style. In approach he was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, but his handling of paint is quite different from theirs. His work includes such classic Victorian anthology pieces as "The Lady of Shalott" and "Hylas and the Nymphs".

Waterhouse was born in 1849 in Rome, where his father worked as a painter. In the 1850s the family returned to England. Before entering the Royal Academy schools in 1870, Waterhouse assisted his father in his studio. His early works were of classical themes in the spirit of Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton. In the late 1870s and the 1880s, Waterhouse made several trips to Italy, where he painted genre scenes. After his marriage in 1883, he took up residence at the Primrose Hill Studios. He was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolor in 1883 and resigned in 1889. In 1884, his Royal Academy submission "Consulting the Oracle" brought him favorable reviews; it was purchased by Sir Henry Tate, who also purchased "The Lady of Shalott" from the 1888 Academy exhibition. The latter painting reveals Waterhouse's growing interest in themes associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1885 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and a full member in 1895.

In the mid-1880s Waterhouse began exhibiting with the Grosvenor Gallery and its successor, the New Gallery, as well as provincial exhibitions in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. Paintings of this period, such as 'Mariamne' (1889), were exhibited widely in England and abroad as part of the international Symbolist movement. In the 1890s Waterhouse began to exhibit portraits. In 1901 he moved to St John's Wood and joined the St John's Wood Arts Club, a social organization that included Lawrence Alma-Tadema and George Clausen. He also served on the advisory council of the Saint John's Wood Art School.

Waterhouse continued to paint until his death in 1917. His somewhat neglected grave can be found at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.


"The Lady of Shalot" (1888) Oil on canvas, 200 x 153 cm - 6' 6.74" x 5' .24". Tate Britain, London, UK.



"Echo and Narcisus" (1903) Oil on canvas, 163 x 98 cm - 5' 4.17" x 3' 2.58". Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK.



"Miranda - The Tempest" (1916) Oil on canvas, 137 x 100.5 cm
- 4' 5.94" x 3' 3.57" in.
Private collection.



"Hylas and the Nymphs" (1896) Oil on canvas, 163 x 98 cm - 5' 4.17" x 3' 2.58". Manchester City Art Galleries, Manchester, UK.



"Tristan and Isolde with the Potion" Oil on canvas, 81.28 x 109.22 cm - 32" x 3' 7". Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross, New Jersey, USA.



"Tristan and Isolde with the Potion (detail)"



"Saint Cecilia" (1895) Oil on canvas. Private collection.



"Circë Invidiosa" (1892) Oil on canvas, 85 x 179 cm - 33.46" x 5' 10.47". Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.



"The Magic Circle" (1886) Oil on canvas, 127 x 183 cm - 4' 2" x 6'. Tate Gallery, London, UK.



"Flora" (circa 1890) Oil on canvas, 33 x 73 cm - 12.99" x 28.74". Private collection.



"I am Half­sick of Shadows, said the Lady of Shalott" (1915) Oil on canvas, 74 x 100 cm - 29.13" x 3' 3.37". Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada.



"Ulysses and the Sirens" (circa 1891) Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.



"Diogenes" (1882) Oil on canvas, 135 x 208 cm - 4' 5.15" x 6' 9.89". Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.



"Portrait of a Girl" Oil on canvas, 31 x 41 cm - 12.2" x 16.14". Private collection.

Text source: unknown.

Related Artists:

Related Terms: Classicism, Realism, Pre-Raphaelites, Symbolism.


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