We find two young figures in front of us resting after, presumably, a tiring dance session. They rest on some cloths and cushions, which help to soften the tiled floor beneath them. They are in a large open room but are allowed a small section to themselves in which they are afforded a small amount of privacy in which to relax. We find further figures sat down in the left hand side of the painting, though they are older and seem to be still involved in the activities of the day. They themselves sit on marble benches, with a further male figure stood behind them watching on. Stone and marble form most of the architectural touches added by the artist here, and of particular interest are some patterned tiles which add aesthetic interest as well as providing some elements of perspective. An attractive tapestry is included too, though its detail is a little too dark to make out much. It is there really to just provide a contrast against the young people nearest us.

The influences found within this painting persisted for an extended part of the artist's career though the overall style would start to lose the interest of the public and critics alike and so many artists decided to eventually try out alternative artistic approaches. Waterhouse himself would take in the British landscape instead and those proved more popular, bringing in a very different palette of colour that went from the white tones of marble and stone to the greens and browns of the British trees and flowers. The latter approach is certainly how he is best known today, but these earlier pieces are still highly interesting with regards his technical and stylistic development.

Much of Waterhouse's oeuvre ended up in private collections after a substantial amount was sold off shortly after his death. Today we continue to see elements of it re-appear in auctions across the UK, often now separated from the items that they were originally purchased alongside around a century ago. His drawings were dispersed particularly widely, meaning it is hard to form a comprehensive survey of them, and many of his lesser known paintings such as After the Dance received a similar treatment. Those in private collections tend to be researched in far less detail, leaving us with very little information on this piece sadly. We can, however, use its date to place it into the context of the artist's overall career and then draw strong conclusions about it from that. Related artworks by Lawrence Alma Tadema that you might also like included Spring, The Roses of Heliogabalus and The Women of Amphissa.

After The Dance in Detail John William Waterhouse