This version from 1891-1893 was left incomplete but still retains enough detail to be featured within our extensive Waterhouse paintings section. Additionally, this composition was finished in a second piece in 1894 and comparing the two together helps us to understand the artist's methods of production. The version found in this page is complete in terms of the female model's facial features and most of her dress is there too. It is more so that additional touches of detail in the background that have been left undone. Perhaps Waterhouse felt unhappy with elements of his work here and decided to revisit the same portrait at a later date, which he did indeed do. The detail on the floor mosaic, for example, is stunning and there are also elements of the furntire behind the model which are also carefully delivered.
John William Waterhouse was a highly respected artist on the fringes of the famous British art movement known as the Pre-Raphaelite Movement. His style was similar to many of their key contributors but he arrived a generation later and so was only establishing himself as other members had already left behind their own legacies. Some have argued that he took all of the finest qualities of the likes of Millais, Holman Hunt and then added his own external inspirations on top. These included English poet, Tennyson, whose writings suited the desire of Waterhouse to depict beautiful models within scenes of literature and mythology.
Whilst this half-completed painting will never match the extraordinary creation of 1888, this painting still provides us with a truly useful insight into the artist's mind and also into his techniques of artistic development, from initial sketches to final painting. Often, in the middle, would be additional works on canvas which tried out some of the ideas from his sketchbooks, but without spending too much time in taking the piece right through to completion. It was a process of building up detail, artwork by artwork, occasionally experimenting with portrait poses and also accompanying details. Not all of his paintings would go through so many stages of development, though.