John William Waterhouse

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John William Waterhouse was a renowned and notable English painter and draftsman, whose work is celebrated as some of the principal and influential examples of the Pre-Raphaelite Style. Canvases produced by Waterhouse were characterized by an intense appreciation of natural light and setting, and a deep inspiration from bold, strong and beautiful female figures.

John William Waterhouse was born on April 6, 1849, in the city of Rome, Italy where to parents who were both influential and notable painters. Growing up in a family or artists, John’s childhood was marked with artistic endeavors, pursuits and training which all began at home, from a very early age. In 1950, his family decided to leave Italy and return to their native land, England, where they settled in Kensington. John began helping his father in his studio, and this not only proved beneficial in furthering his artistic education and improving his natural talents and skills. Soon, John began developing his own unique style by incorporating the techniques taught by his father with his own unconventional experimentation.

In 1870, John began attending the Royal Academy Schools as a student of sculpture and painting. During this period, he began developing some of his earliest works which indicate an inclination towards the Classical style of painting and hint a significant influence from the works of prolific artists such as Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton. During the 1870s and 80s, John began conducting extensive travels to Italy, and later throughout Europe. It was during this period that he began experimenting with watercolours on large canvases. His interests and passions became piqued and heightened by the classical and Pre-Raphaelite style, and he began incorporating their themes of stunningly gorgeous women who were strong, dynamic, powerful or awfully disappointed and sad.

In 1874, John contributed his first painting at the Summer Exhibition arranged by the Royal Academy. His painting, ‘Sleep and his Half-Brother Death’, garnered much appreciation and critical exhibition, and set the foundation for the annual entry into the exhibition until John’s death. Even though he preferred the use of oil paints, John was selected as a painter of watercolors by the Royal Academy in 1883. However, he resigned from this post in 1889. It was during this time that he developed some of his most iconic and remarkable works such as, ‘Consulting the Oracle’, ‘The Lady of Shallot’ and ‘Ophelia’, of which the first two were bought by the prolific and influential owner of the prestigious Tate Galleries, Henry Tate.

John created around 200 paintings during his life, however, his ticket to fame was his iconic and remarkable, ‘Consulting the Oracle’, which firmly established his position as a promising and talented artist, and paved the way for great commercial success. His work began to appear in exhibitions at the prestigious Dudley Gallery, and the Society of British Artists. Some of his most famous and widely applauded works include, ‘the Lady of Shallot’, ‘Ophelia’, ‘the Enchanted Garden’, ‘A Naiad’, ‘Consulting the Oracle’, and ‘Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May’ among many others.


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