Thursday, 14 January 2010

Waterhouse's Garden of Enchantment

Last Friday, I told you I was to visit "Garden of Enchantment", a retrospective of John William Waterhouse's work presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The least I can say is that I have been most pleasantly surprised: my expectations were quite high and I was not disappointed. A great number of art pieces are presented, many of which are considered among his masterpieces. I have been stunned by the beauty and the size of paintings I rediscovered and by comparing many these pieces, I increased my  understanding of his work. Here are some of discoveries I made, thanks to the exhibition.


1- The number seven is very present in Waterhouse's work, for instance in Ulysses and the Sirens (1891) and in Hylas and the Nymphs (1896).




2-  His paintings are often composed around circles and half-circles, as if the spectator was invited to join the characters in their mysterious world.


 
 
 
3-  Maybe inspired by his own name, Waterhouse seemed to have a fascination with water, including the element in numerous paintings. Water's reflexiveness is also present in the frequent use of mirrors.




4-  Beautiful women (or magic creatures) with silky ivory skin are almost always at the centre of his paintings. Their attractiveness is often mixed with a hint of danger, portraying the ambivalent feelings of victorian men towards the growing place of women in their society.




 

6-  The stories told by Waterhouse are filled with magic, mystery and dreams, going as far as bewitching spectators standing in front of the masterpieces. 

 

  

7- And a last discovery, a painting I had never seen which enchanted me with the strength of its colour, of its contrasts and of its character... 



The exhibition will be presented until February 7th, 2010.

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