The later period of Waterhouse made less of mythology and this painting is a good example of that. For several years the artist had been interested in depicting nature within his work and also the impact of wind across the scene. We can compare that to the way in which Impressionists like Monet would capture the same objects time and time again, but under changing conditions of light. Windflowers remains in a private collection and was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1903, with the artist typically displaying his work soon after each one was completed.
Windflowers captures the signature features of most John William Waterhouse paintings. There is the tall, slim model of a young age which resembles a charming innocence. There is then her classical dressing plus the background of a scene from rural Britain, with greenery at every corner plus a splattering of pretty flowers growing wild. The artist had his preferred models who would appear in many of his paintings, so you may recognise this fair-skinned maiden from several of his other works. She appears to be out picking flowers, and holds quite a collection around her midrift. In actual fact, the title here simply refers to the anemones that are being collected and protected by the young woman.
Waterhouse carefully uses colour to create a balance in this scene - the muses' layers of clothing are deliberately made out of the same tones as the flowers that she picks - whites and pinks. Behind her is a small path that perhaps she made her way down initially to get to this point, as well as some small blooming trees. In the very far background are some rolling hills which the artist deliberately delivers in a faded look in order to ensure that it doesn't distract the viewer's eye from the central component of the painting. Waterhouse typically allowed these stunning beauties to dominate his scenes, even when using symbolism or mystical items alongside their poses. The use of wind, as recognised in the title, is suggested at by her flowing hair and clothing which leans off to the left hand side. You will find similar in his famous Boreas painting of 1903 as well as several study drawings. Boreas itself was the mythological god of the north wind, which further adds context to that painting.
Some have argued that there may have been more symbolic value to this painting than most originally thought. There have been suggestions that the myth of Proserpina is loosely touched on in this painting because the spring flowers in this scene would have been similar to the ones in the vale of Enna when Proserpina was famously swept away. We do know that artist Waterhouse featured examples of her within some of his later paintings, and so this opinion does indeed carry some weight. It was Rose Sketchley in 1909 who first put this argument forward, and it remains under consideration over a century later.