There is a combination of a background landscape with architecture and figurative portraits in the foreground. Additional touches of flowers and delicate clothing leaves a beautiful overall painting. Most of the elements found here are typical of Waterhouse but this particular scene is composed to a particularly impressive level and came when the artist was at the height of his powers.
The larger, detailed image below displays all of the intricate detail that Waterhouse added to the clothing of each figure. He delivers material that you can touch, feel, as if you are right there. This took years of practice and natural imagination. A quick browse of the oeuvre of Waterhouse displays his appreciation of the female body and how he tended to prefer slim brunette models.
This painting was purchased by George McCulloch who was a keen collector with a particular passion for the Pre-Raphaelites and went on to purchase several paintings by Burne-Jones. With the owner's business roots in Australia, these purchases helped to promote this British art movement on the other side of the world and several original Pre-Raphaelite paintings still remain there today. St Cecilia remains in a private collection.
Two beautiful servants play violins on the left of the composition, whilst St Cecilia sleeps in her grand looking chair. Her feet delicately lie on top of a pretty red carpet and the whole scene in general gives an atmosphere of wealth and elegance. When viewing the original painting one is able to see each and every detail added by the artist to this large canvas, where as small photographs of the piece may not deliver that.