I have two large prints on my living room wall. The first is a large graphic
print of a modernized William Shakespeare wearing a jacket and tie, done by
two very good young artists who did the print for the Dallas Library back in
the early 80s. The other is Ophelia (1904 vesion) by John William Waterhouse.
Today I was surfing for some information on the net — information that
had nothing to do with art — and by some happy gift of the Fates came
across a site simply called Waterhouse. If you love art, and especially
if you love Waterhouse or the Pre-Raphaelites, you will love this site.
In fact, I warn you, don't even go there unless you have a couple of
hours to kill. The home page looks very unassuming; but once you start
to get into it, it becomes like Pandora's box. Once you are there you
won't want to leave quickly.
There is really too much on the site to describe here. One thing I will
mention is an article called "The Waterhouse Ideal," which looks at
Waterhouse's models and pieces together clues as to their identity.
Be sure too to check out the free downloads section — the screensavers
are some of the coolest around.
There is a new "Zoomify" feature available for about ten of the paintings
so far, which allows you to zoom in on a particular detail of the painting.
Here's an example. This is the painting of Ophelia I mentioned.
Now here is a detail.
I don't know how many hours I've stood in front of Ophelia looking at
it. One of the things that always got to me was the detail of her wrist —
it is almost as if you can see the pulse flowing through it the rendering is
Incidently, Waterhouse did four different versions of Ophelia, using at
least two different models. I'm no expert, but it looks to me that three
of the versions were of one model, and the one above another.
Here's one that was new to me, Boreas (1903). I love the pull and
twist of the clothing in this. You can almost feel the chill, early
winter wind blowing through the painting. The interesting question here
is whether the woman is merely suffering the effects of the wind — or
whether she is causing the winter gusts in an allegorical kind of way.
With Waterhouse, it's often difficult to tell.
Waterhouse is one of the best sites on art I have run across. I wish
there were a site like this for every painter. I highly recommend it.