His models were always elegantly dressed, slim and pretty. Their pale tones suggested youthfulness and purity. Waterhouse would then theme each portrait in line with mythological stories or more modern poetry. He would also put a lot of effort into decorating his compositions, often with elements of symbolism across the foreground.

This detailed piece arrived in 1891 and is now stored at the Oldham Gallery in Lancashire, UK. It must surely rank as one of the highlights of their collection. Circe, a sorceress from the Odyssey, is used in several Waterhouse paintings and boasts a strong character and attractive aesthetic which makes her ideal for his unique artistic style.

This cunning woman seeks to overpower her opponent by getting him to drink a potion from her cup. The mirror behind her is used to capture Ulysses himself, whilst making sure that she retains the main focus. The pig or boar seen by her feet is believed to have originally been a member of Ulysees' staff who has already fallen foul of her magic.

John William Waterhouse was a Pre-Raphaelite artist, though appeared towards the end of this movement's impact. He took in their achievements and added other styles to produce a back catalogue of impressive work. The architectural features in this particular painting were inspired by the Italian Renaissance, where as other artists used Gothic styles instead on some occassions. Notable Italian architects and sculptors who may have caught his eye when studying this period of art history include Filippo Brunelleschi, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Donatello.

Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses in Detail John William Waterhouse