Waterhouse's paintings had the classical style of Alma-Tadema and mythical and romantic portraiture of pre-Raphaelites such as John Everett Millais (Ophelia) and William Holman Hunt (The Light of the World). His paintings also depict literary themes, which are brought out romantically and dreamily. The artist tended to produce paintings that had a tragic or brutal story behind them. However, these paintings could bring out a calm nature and beauty behind them as seen in his artistic work of In the peristyle. Most of Waterhouse's paintings were based on heroic male characters but they mostly appeared as background characters. In most paintings, he turned the faces of these male characters away while the faces were covered in other paintings. This technique allowed Waterhouse to bring out his passion of producing paintings of beautiful women allowing his viewers to have a deeper interpretation of the women in his portraits.
The beautiful woman in Waterhouse's piece of In the Peristyle appears to be innocent and pure, which he brought out, creating a luminous porcelain skin. This skin tone portrays a high sense of beauty and is quite fashionable. This light skin tone was a good contrast to the woman's blonde hair. Her innocence in the portrait is brought out clearly by her dressing as Greek dress codes inspired him since the woman is seen wearing a white translucent fabric robe hanging loosely on her shoulders. This way, the artist brings out the subtle sexual nature of women without necessarily making them look nude.
In the background, there are pillars and vegetation in what appears to be a Greek background and the lighting used by Whitehouse appears to be a sunset feel. The woman's innocence is further brought out as she innocently feeds the birds s the has a basket in her hands that appears to contain grains. The faint colours used in the background create the feeling and set the mood of the portrait. The clothing used on the woman is romantic and creates movement as the woman appears to be walking while feeding the birds. The portrait also looks realistic as the light and hair look so real and not dreamy. There are similarities in the works of Waterhouse and that of Rossetti and William Holman Hunt. The artist commonly used models for his portraiture work and one of his favorite models was Sarah Bernhardt. He made his art instrumental in England as his relationship with the Royal Academy grew significantly. Today, some of his work can be found archived in the Royal Academy. Mucha was another key portrait artist who gave us the likes of Slav Epic, Spring and Summer.