Thursday, June 4, 2009

Must See JW Waterhouse Exhibition

An exhibition featuring J.W. Waterhouse's paintings will be hosted by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from October 1, 2009, to February 7, 2010.

This is, in my mind, one of those must see exhibitions for any fan of late 19th century art. Art Daily had this to say about the news:

"J. W. Waterhouse: The Modern Pre-Raphaelite is the first large-scale monographic exhibition on Waterhouse’s work since 1978 and the first to feature his entire artistic career."

"This retrospective features some eighty paintings that are among the finest and most spectacular of the artist’s production, on loan from public and private collections in Australia, England, Ireland, Taiwan, the United States and Canada.".

"It will also present many of the artist’s attractive studies in oil, chalk and pencil. Several of these works have not been exhibited since Waterhouse’s lifetime."

Waterhouse painted in the tradition of Frederick Leighton and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. While all three focused on classical themes and painted beautiful, thought-provoking scenes, one thing I enjoy in particular about Waterhouse's work is his ability to portray "romantic longing" in his characters.

In the above picture, titled Hylas and the Nymphas, look at the girl drawing Hylas into the water. This is a depiction of true love--and it was mutual. As the story goes, Hylas--son of Hercules--left the Argo behind in order to live forever with the nymphas.

The picture to the left, titled La Belle Dam Sans Mercie (or: The Beautiful Woman Without Mercy), shows that same romantic longing in the character of another.

Again, I think he is particularly adept at painting this state of mind (see Lamia for additional proof), but his work is not limited to this.

There are plenty of reasons to enjoy Waterhouse's paintings--and I hope some of you get the chance to discover them for yourself!

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