The influence of ancient Rome and Greece can be found within this painting, in all manner of different details. Initially, we find the young woman peering out to our left, seemingly deep in concentration. She wears classical clothing which immediately sets the scene of time and location. Her outfit hangs from her body in a relaxed fashion and we immediately can tell that this young woman is enjoying some leisure time in a familiar place, most likely her own garden or courtyard. She sits on a decorative bench with detail around the legs which again continues this classical theme. She holds a fan in her right hand and leans on her left as she contemplates her own situation at the time. Behind her is white painted stone work with a small shrine which is arched into the wall. There is a Roman sculpture along with a variety of flowers which would have been left there as a sign of respect and memory. The plinth is in blue marble, with diagonal stripes which contrast with the otherwise white architecture.
Flora in White Attire is dated at 1890 and the artist is known to have produced several works in this style that year. He was becoming more comfortable in his technical prowess by now and was a fully established and respected artist at this point. We do not have huge amounts of detail on this painting and it is believed to now reside within a private collection, probably somewhere within the UK. His drawings and a number of lesser known oil works were auctioned off in large groups shortly after his death by his widow who sought to avoid having to manage a huge collection of work and the pressure that came with that. We sometimes find these pieces returning to auction in the present day as interest in his career remains strong.
During the Victorian era there were many British artists working in this classical style for a period of several decades, some more successfully than others. One of the finest contributors to this collective would have to be Dutch painter Lawrence Alma Tadema who, like Waterhouse, was born abroad but lived much of his life in the UK. You will find the same use of marble and stone with classical fashion as used by Waterhouse within some of his own most famous paintings, such as Spring, in which an extraordinary number of figures are used in one of the most detailed and impressive artworks ever seen within this style of work. It really is one of the most ambitious paintings seen around that time and understandably is considered by most to have been this artist's most impressive contribution. Unlike Waterhouse, he would continue onwards with this method throughout his career, and achieved a strong reputation for his portraiture and attention to historical accuracy.