The content here captures a young female playing music in order to charm the fish in the pond below her. The style of this painting is in keeping with Waterhouse's preference for slim, pale-toned women who would model for both his drawings and paintings. He felt they best captured an atmosphere of innocence and beauty, both of which he wanted to theme his works. He regularly captured women by themselves within natural surroundings, often deep in thought. In the case of The Charmer, the lady is entirely happy and occupied and so there is no feeling of melancholy but instead a sweet connection between herself and the fish who splash around in contentment. The artist would have carefully planned several elements of this painting in order to get just the right atmosphere, from the model's clothing, to the choice of instrument that she plays and also to her posture around the pond. Waterhouse practiced tirelessly using pencil and chalk in order to perfect his handling of portraiture, which then saved huge amounts of time when he started to work in oils. He also produced some works in watercolour and ink, though normally as an alternative method of study, rather than to produce presentable, sellable artworks.
Many of Waterhouse's artworks now reside within private collections and have proven fairly popular at auctions in recent years. His drawings have also proven particularly affordable and there seems little chance of his work falling out of fashion because of the timeless beauty and charm of some of his best work. There seems little prospect of his talented use of portraiture being replaced by other modern styles, although in the present day there is certainly room for both. Auctions of Victorian-era paintings are common within the UK, where interest remains strong and some collectors have even purchased and sold such items in just the space of a few years and made good profits from doing so. Waterhouse was very much a part of the establishment and at that time it was very hard to achieve artistic success without being so, though today things have started to become at least a little more democratic to wider society.
This artist worked on the fringes of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, following a very similar style to them but arriving around a generation too late to really become a key member of the brotherhood. This has impacted his legacy, with many of the real members of the group benefiting from the popularity of the group as a whole. He initially liked an almost Neo-Classical approach, before later pushing towards the more British style of portraiture within landscaped scenes that can be seen throughout the Pre-Raphaelites. Another artist who impressed in the former, with stunning portraits of Roman or Greek themed artworks was John William Godward who gifted us the likes of Dolce Far Niente, A Fair Reflection and Under the Blossom that Hangs on the Boughand who kept to this stylistic choice fairly closely for the majority of his career. The 19th century as a whole was a key period in British art history and brought about a significant number of key contributors, across several different artistic styles.