Portraiture, particularly of young women, was a key ingredient in the success of British artist John William Waterhouse. He lie on the fringes of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood but arrived too late to be considered a genuine member. The style of his work was just starting to fall out of fashion towards the end of his career but today he is rightly considered an impressive painter who possessed strong technical skills and also produced work which the public have really connected with. Issues around originality or conforming to the trends of the time are ignored today, and instead we simply appreciate his oeuvre just as it is. One example of this retained popularity is the amount of prints which are still ordered for paintings from his career even today, and the sweet, innocent scenes feel contemporary in many cases thanks to the delicate colours and domestic content which proves particularly popular within his native UK.
In front of us here we find a young female model with long red hair, a popular choice for the artist, and a white blouse or dress. She appears to be playing with her hair whilst staring off into the distance and this was a common pose within this artist's paintings. Behind her is a small pond with surrounding rocks and shrubery, although the artist avoids adding any extra layers of oils that would have delivered greater detail and so we are left guessing a little about what lies in front of us. Many conclusions can be drawn by those who know the artist's oeuvre well, as this piece is entirely in line with the signature approach for which Waterhouse would become so famous. Whilst some critics would claim that he lacked ambition in sticking to a tried and tested formula, the public cared little for these views and simply appreciated the consistently charming set of paintings that came from his hand over the period of several decades. That alone explains why even today prints of his work are just so popular.
Waterhouse worked in a style that was common throughout the Victorian era and there were many others who did similar, though few could match the achievements that he made. Another notable contributor to this period of British art would be Frank Dicksee who gifted us the likes of The Two Crowns, Harmony and The End of the Quest. He would also rely heavily on precise portrait painting and similarly made use of literature as inspiration for much of his work. His own career may not have quite reached the heights of Waterhouse but he was highly regarded for his technical prowess and he managed to achieve a similar consistency in producing charming scenes of a bygone-era which would also continue to be popular today. Many of the tales that he used will never fall out of fashion, with people continuing to enjoy the themes of love, tragedy and other morales tales today just as much as they ever have.