John W. Waterhouse (1849-1917)

Waterhouse, the son of parents who were also artists, was one of the most successful and influential Victorian artists of the Royal Academy; he was much admired for his craftsmanship, imagination, and affinities with the earlier Pre-Raphaelites. He drew his inspiration from the classics and English literature, excelling with paintings depicted women characters--especially the Victorian "femme fatale" (in paintings like Ulysses and the Sirens and La Belle Dame sans Merci) and the abandoned, isolated heroine (Ophelia, The Lady of Shallot and Miranda).

His later paintings, although they still suited Victorian tastes, came to look old-fashioned and "decorative"; he persisted in historical painting, reworking old themes and subjects, when younger artists were turning to the Continent and impressionism, cubism and abstraction. The recent reappraisals of Victorian art have, however, revived our interest in work.