Here we find two young girls spending time together in an open courtyard within a classical setting, possibly ancient Rome or Greece. The sweet imagery features the youngest looking directly into a hand mirror whilst her older friend, possibly a sister, plays with her long hair. They relax on a decorative carpet in order to provide comfort over the hard marble floor which persists throughout the painting. There is then a plethora of stone architectural touches, such as a small walled garden with a variety of terracotta plant pots and some exotic looking plants within them. There are also other flowers which provide tones of purple, red and yellow to this enticing artwork. One can see large amounts of detail within this painting after initially considering this piece to be fairly simple, on first glance. Although a lesser known painting from a large oeuvre, At Capri still provides an important addition to the early career of this famous British painter.
At Capri is dated at 1890 which is inline with how the artist worked before the turn of the century. There is not an awful lot of information available on it currently, which suggests that it is likely to be held within a private collection, and so there is less opportunity for its owners to really research and document the piece in greater detail. Many of this artist's lesser known works are to be found within private collections, and the majority of those will be based in the UK in line with a large sale of his work shortly after his death in the early 20th century. Some of these items continue to resurface every one in a while and offer collectors with smaller budgets the potential opportunity to acquire a Waterhouse artwork for themselves.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema was another artist from around this period who worked in a similar style to that displayed here in At Capri. He produced the likes of The Roses of Heliogabalus but also went to great lengths in order to ensure the accuracy of his work, where as some other artists were happy to really just rely on imagination and artistic licence for their classically-themed paintings. Ultimately, he would achieve as much as anyone in this group and took his place within British art history as a respected import from the Netherlands who helped to continue the UK's rise in prominence within European art more generally. He arrived earlier than Waterhouse and perhaps took advantage of his timing, as it was not until the very late part of his career that interest from critics and the public in this style of art would start to fall off, where as Waterhouse was younger and therefore needed to find alternative avenues.