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A biography of john william waterhouse an english painter

Buy Now from Art. In total, Waterhouse produced a staggering 118 paintings in his lifetime. He had an interesting life that impacted significantly on the British art scene, so his biography is captivating to read. Although Waterhouse is known as an English artist, his biography begins in his birthplace, Rome.

He was born on 1849 to his parents, William and Isabella Waterhouse. The exact date of his birth is unknown. However, he was baptised on the 6th April of that year and this is often credited as his date of birth.

The Waterhouses decided to return to England in 1854 when John William Waterhouse was just five years of age. They lived in a newly built home in South Kensington, London, which was located close to the Victoria and Albert Museum. His artistic parents encouraged their son to sketch during these visits. Throughout his teens and into early adulthood, Waterhouse would assist his father in the studio.

Biography of Waterhouse

This enhanced his passion for art further. In 1870, became a student at the Royal Academy of Art school. Initially, he studied as a sculptor. He then switched courses to study painting. Although he is known as a Pre-Raphaelite painter, his earlier works were not in this style. However, his paintings did have a classical theme.

  • His father was also a painter by profession;
  • During the 1870s and 1880s, he made several trips to Italy and other parts of Europe, where he drew inspiration for his paintings;
  • Waterhouse was famous for painting scenes influenced by legends and mythology.

The only exceptions to this were in 1890 and 1915. His work gained popularity and Waterhouse made an impact on the London art scene. John William Waterhouse was a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour between 1883 and 1889 when he resigned.

This was in spite of the fact that most of his work was painted in oils.

  1. The couple lived together over his Primrose studios. Art Career Waterhouse created more than 200 paintings during his lifetime, but he gained fame and recognition when his painting Consulting the Oracle was bought by Sir Henry Tate in 1886.
  2. Initially, he studied as a sculptor. Following his painting of Ophelia in 1888, Waterhouse painted different versions of her in 1894 and 1909.
  3. These consisted predominantly of flower paintings. One of his final works was The Enchanted Garden, left unfinished on his easel at his death, and now in the collection of the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Liverpool.

This piece received excellent reviews from art critics and Sir Henry Tate purchased the painting. During the mid-1880s, Waterhouse exhibited many of his works at the Grosvenor Gallery. He also exhibited his work in galleries in some of the major cities in England, such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

This was part of the international symbolist movement. He actually produced three different versions of this painting in 1888, 1894and 1916. In addition to painting, Waterhouse also taught art at St. In 1895, he was elected the status of Academician. Byam Shaw, a neo-Pre-Raphaelite artist, was among his students. Waterhouse served on the Royal Academy Council and joined the St. This was just the first of his paintings of Ophelia as she became one of his favourite subjects.

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It is believed he may have been inspired by the paintings of John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who also painted this subject.

Following his painting of Ophelia in 1888, Waterhouse painted different versions of her in 1894 and 1909. During the final years of his life, Waterhouse continued to paint despite suffering from cancer which had left him frail. Between 1908 and 1914, he painted a series of paintings.

  • In fact, he even helped his father in his studio whilst he was painting;
  • This was part of the international symbolist movement;
  • This painting, in particular, was painted in three different versions;
  • Born in Rome to English parents who were both painters, Waterhouse later moved to London, where he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Art;
  • The tragic figure Ophelia was a subject he turned to three times 1889, 1894, 1910 , each painting capturing her in a different moment of her story as she came closer to death.

These were based on the legend of Persephone. This inspired him to create more work based on mythology and literature in 1916. These included Isolde, Miranda and Tristram. Waterhouse had also planned to paint an additional painting for the Ophelia series. Unfortunately, he never completed this before his death.

However, this was also unfinished and was found at his easel after his death. The public can see this final painting as it is now on display as part of the collection at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Waterhouse married Esther Kenworthy in 1883. His wife was the daughter of an art schoolmaster. She had artistic talents herself and had exhibited her work at the Royal Academy. These consisted predominantly of flower paintings. The couple lived together over his Primrose studios.

First at number three and then later at number six. Their homes were later occupied by artists including Patrick Caulfield and Arthur Rackham. Although the couple had two children together, they both tragically died in childhood.

Very little else is known about his personal life as there are very few artefacts from his life to fill in the blanks. The only known historical documents linked to Waterhouse are letters detailing who modelled for his work.

John William Waterhouse Artwork

These included Mary Lloyd and Angelo Colorossi. The biography of John Willian Waterhouse ends with his death on 10th February 1917. He died from cancer, from which he had suffered for several years.

His wife, Esther, outlived him by 27 years.

  • John and Esther had two children;
  • Most of his paintings were in oil;
  • He learnt some of his artistic skills in Italy;
  • In the late 1870s and the 1880s, Waterhouse made several trips to Italy, where he painted genre scenes.

She died peacefully in a nursing home in 1944. The couple are laid to rest beside each other at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.