Tag Archives: John William Waterhouse

Pictures from an Exhibition

O, to be in Liverpool
Now that February’s there…

The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool has opened an exhibition called “Victorian Treasures”,  which “brings together more than 60 outstanding Victorian paintings and watercolours from the art collections of National Museums Liverpool. The exhibition explores the work of leading 19th-century classical artists such as Frederic Leighton, Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Edward John Poynter. It also showcases work from pioneering Pre-Raphaelite artists including John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt.”

With my love of Victoriana in general, and the Pre-Raphaelites in particular, I wish I could be there.

The painting at the top of this posting is John William Waterhouse’s “The Decameron”, which is part of the exhibition. Here are a few other paintings from the show:

"Confidences", by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

“Confidences”, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

"Dolce far Niente", by Charles Edward Perugini

“Dolce far Niente”, by Charles Edward Perugini

I’m going to remember the title of this picture. “Dolce far Niente” can be translated as “the sweetness of doing nothing”.

"Madeline after Prayer", by Daniel Maclise

“Madeline after Prayer”, by Daniel Maclise


Sunday Morning — Victoriana of the Week

George Edward Robertson - The Lady of Shallott

“The Lady of Shallott,” by George Edward Robertson

I can’t find any biographical information about George Edward Robertson on the Web, and he’s not referenced in any of my usually comprehensive books on Victorian painters.  I selected this work because it’s yet another representation of a poem favoured by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood:   Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shallot.”

“The Lady of Shallot” was the subject of paintings by  John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt,  and  John William Waterhouse.  I’ve already posted two of the Waterhouse paintings here and here.

Robertson’s painting sold at Sotheby’s in January 2014 for $71,250.  From the catalogue:

“The central figure on the shore, Lancelot grasps the delicate wrist of a noblewoman who clutches his shoulder in shock as he beholds the final resting place of the red haired maiden.  Her white gown spilling into the murky water below, the Lady of Shalott’s fair face rests in stark contrast to the distorted features of the claustrophobic crowd that leans in, curious and fearful as they await their Lancelot’s final judgment.  The sun sets in the background, reflecting its orange hues in the river below and casting the characters in a gentle glow at the close of day.  Drawing the viewer’s eye first from the river connected to the lady lying in the boat, along the lines of her barge through the brawny riverhands pulling her to shore, and onto the uncapped Lancelot and his frozen court, Robertson deftly shows his technical command of the large format style favored by the Royal Academy while emotively capturing an acute moment of literary magnitude.”

Leighton House Museum

Leighton House Museum is the former home and studio of the Victorian artist Sir Frederic Leighton.   I’ve posted earlier about the curious financial history of Lord Leighton’s best known painting, Flaming June, and its upcoming visit to the United States.

Flaming June Leighton

“Flaming June,” by Sir Frederic Leighton

Returning to Leighton House was at the top of my list of things I wanted to do in London, for two reasons.

The first reason was that the jewel in the crown at Leighton House is one of my favourite rooms:  The Arab Hall.  I could have spent hours in this beautiful, serene, three-storey work of art.


Arab Hall

The second reason was that Leighton House was hosting an exhibition of more than fifty rarely exhibited pictures from the Pérez Simón Collection, which is the largest private collection of Victorian and Edwardian art outside Great Britain, now that the Forbes collection has been dispersed by Malcolm Forbes’ massively inept heirs.   Juan Antonio Pérez Simón, a Mexican telecommunications billionaire, is one of the world’s foremost private art collectors. His taste is wide-ranging—he buys what he likes, not what’s fashionable—and his collection exceeds 3,000 paintings.

I hadn’t known just what was in his Victorian collection, and was delighted to find that it included one of my favourite paintings:   Waterhouse’s  “The Crystal Ball.”


“The Crystal Ball,” by John William Waterhouse

But the clear star of the collection, w/a room to itself, was Alma-Tadema’s “The Roses of Heliogabalus.”

The_Roses_of_Heliogabalus tt

“The Roses of Heliogabalus,” by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

I posted some notes about “The Roses of Heliogabalus” last fall, before I’d decided to spend early Spring in London, and long before I’d learned of this exhibition.

I had a hard time leaving Leighton House.  I walked through the full exhibition two or three times, with long visits to the Arab Hall at the start of the show and  “The Roses of Heliogabalus” at the end.  But I had plans for the evening, and finally had to say goodbye to Holland Park.

Sunday Morning — Victoriana of the Week


“Circe Invidiosa,” by John William Waterhouse

She’s Circe, and she’s up to no good.

In Waterhouse’s picture, Circe, the enchantress who turned Odysseus’ crew into swine, prepares a potion to transform her rival Scylla into a monster.

She’s on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Don’t get too close.

Sunday Morning — Victoriana of the Week


“The Magic Circle”, by John William Waterhouse

It’s October, and my favorite holiday, is only a few weeks away, so I’ve decided to start celebrating early.  Happy Halloween!

Today’s Victoriana is “The Magic Circle”,  John William Waterhouse’s painting of a witch drawing a fiery magic circle to create a ritual space.  If you enbiggen the picture, you can more easily see the ravens and the half-buried skull just outside the circle, and how the circle itself is beginning to flame.  She’s holding a curved blade, which suggests that something is about to be sacrificed.

“The Magic Circle” is at the Tate.