Enchanted by Women

J.W. Waterhouse, the modern Pre-Raphaelite

12 Dec 2008
3 May 2009

The Groninger Museum presents the largest retrospective of the art of John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) ever mounted. This exhibition will feature 92 paintings, drawings, and sketchbooks, and has been organised in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada. Splendid works will come from public and private collections in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, the United States, Taiwan, and Canada. Few have ever been shown in continental Europe.


J.W. Waterhouse, '"I Am Half-Sick of Shadows," Said the Lady of Shalott', (1915) afbeelding van Victorianweb . -

The Modern Pre-Raphaelite is the first monographic exhibition about Waterhouse to be held since 1978. It is also the first to consider his entire career, demonstrating his engagement with contemporary trends ranging from antiquarianism to mystical spirituality. Particularly significant to Waterhouse were the intense passions celebrated by Homer and Ovid in their retellings of Classical myths, and by John Keats, Alfred Tennyson, and their forerunner William Shakespeare in Romantic verse. Key examples to appear in the exhibition are The Lady of Shalott, Hylas and the Nymphs, Ulysses and the Sirens, Lamia, and Miranda—The Tempest.

Although Waterhouse’s compelling scenes are admired by millions of people worldwide, the general public knows relatively little about the man himself and his artistic production. Accordingly, the Groninger Museum exhibition will place Waterhouse’s most renowned works in their proper context to illustrate why he is such an important transmitter of the Classical and Romantic traditions. Today Waterhouse can be considered the “Modern Pre-Raphaelite” because he was steeped in the colourful emotionalism of D.G. Rossetti, J.E. Millais, and William Holman Hunt, but also fully aware of the exciting technical innovations occurring in Paris in the second half of the nineteenth century. Thus he felt at home equally in the enchanted world of myth, legend, and poetry, and in the new ways of seeing triggered by Impressionism. Waterhouse’s passion for beauty lives on in the marvellous paintings and drawings he left behind, the most significant of which will be on view in the Groninger Museum.

The exhibition runs from December 12, 2008 until May 3, 2009. Visit the Groninger Museum website for all visiting information.