John William Waterhouse

1074 Words 5 Pages
John William Waterhouse was born on the 6th of April, 1849 in Rome, Italy and died in London from cancer on the 10th of February, 1917. Waterhouse’s mother and father were painters and throughout his life they referred to their son as “Nino”, for Giovannino (‘Little John’), he was the eldest of three; a younger brother Edwin and a sister named Jessie. When Nino was eight he experienced the death of his mother and it was shortly afterwards that his father remarried. Between 1861 and 1870 his father and new step mother birthed four children, which was a drastic life change for Nino and his two younger biological siblings. In 1861 Nino had to leave school and his sister Jessie went to live with an aunt. Luckily it wasn’t too long before his …show more content…
What we do know for sure is that a main focus in Nino’s life from this point on was painting, and he preferred working with oils and watercolor. Although Waterhouse never left London, the city was not prevalent in his work. The female human figure was the subject in most of his paintings and his work portrayed Pre-Raphaelite themes in an “academic modification of impressionism (Trippi, pg.4).” Waterhouse painted in more of a modern manner, he was part of the third generation of Pre-Raphaelite painters and his signature style was much more painterly and naturalistic than the first two generations.
In 1872 some of his first paintings appeared at the Society of British Artists, one of which is titled Undine. This painting measure’s only ten inches high and is a great example of the charming subjects that introduced his developing artistic individuality. Undine is a heroine water fairy who married a knight to acquire a soul; however, she was rejected and forced back into nature, when she later arose from a fountain dressed as a bride she was in anguish, knowing that her fate required her to deliver a kiss of death to her former lover. In this painting, Undine is a symbol of erotic death with her half exposed breast. “This paradoxical conjoining of desire and destruction figured centrally in the golden age of fairy art and literature during which Waterhouse was brought up
Open Document