Thursday, December 11, 2008

Waterhouse's Mermaid

JW Waterhouse's "Mermaid"
and my copy done at a
ge 12

I was reminded of my early love of this painting when I listened to a podcast lecture about Waterhouse from the Art Renewal Center website a few days ago.

The painting came to my house on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine in the early 80's and I fell in love with it. My drawing of it was taped to my bedroom wall for all of my early adolescence.

I had no idea how the painting fit into art history until a few years ago, as Waterhouse and the Pre-Raphaelites, if mentioned at all, were only a small footnote in my art history studies in art school. It was painted in 1905, when a few other things were going on in the art world around that time.

Despite the sentimental and politically loaded subject matter that squarely dates the image, I certainly could have learned a lot about figure drawing in my youth if I had known of and continued to copy the masters of the 19th century academic painters.

An interesting tidbit from the podcast: Waterhouse married a fellow painter, a woman named Esther Kenworthy. According to Peter Trippi, the expert on Waterhouse interviewed in the podcast, Esther "gave up painting" once she married Waterhouse.