John William Waterhouse


Artist Biography:

The son of an artist and copyist, this historical genre painter was born in Rome in 1849. He spent his early years in Italy, beginning to paint with his father, and having returned to England with his family in 1854 he continued to train at home. In 1870 he entered the Royal Academy Schools and began to exhibit there from 1874. He showed there regularly until his death in 1917 and also supported the Grosvenor and New Galleries and the Liverpool Autumn Exhibitions. After fairly tentative beginnings, Waterhouse rapidly gained assurance in his art, specialising in modern subjects painted in Italy and also some classical themes in the Alma-Tadema vein. In 1885 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy and by 1895 was a Member. His international reputation was growing as pictures were acquired for prestigious institutions world-wide. One of his images gained a medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1889 and was subsequently acclaimed in Chicago and Brussels. When he began to paint pre-Raphaelite themes he combined a remarkable ability to portray mood and facial type with great skill. He was an artist who continued to develop all his life, and his later works are truly outstanding. In 1883 he married Esther Kenworthy, an artist and writer, and they settled in Primrose Hill, later migrating to St. John's Wood, that commune of late 19th century academic artists. He was much respected not only for his painting but for his skilful teaching at the St. John's Wood and Royal Academy Schools, and his work was collected by such important patrons as George McCulloch, Sir James Murray of Aberdeen and Sir Alexander Henderson. In 1913 Waterhouse's health began to fail and he died from cancer four years later, leaving one picture, The Enchanted Garden, unfinished.

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