Saturday, July 3, 2021

Waterhouse Cracks the Mirror

From Of Art and Wine:

John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) was born around the time that the Pre-Raphaelites were getting started on their journey toward a romanticized realism based on the myths and legends of the past and the desire to break free of the academic dictates related to the art of Raphael (see the previous article on the Pre-Raphaelites). While John Everett Millais could be quite dramatic, his Ophelia being a prime example of that drama in storytelling, to me Waterhouse seems to take that storytelling into what could be called the cinematic. The advent of the camera and the photographic image, which toward the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th turned toward making pictures move, had effects that rippled through the visual arts on many levels.

Waterhouse was not alone in this move to action packed scenes in which every element was designed to tell a story. Across the Channel or La Manche, as the French say, Jean-Léon Gérôme, a leading academician and romantic painter, moved into near photographic storytelling, including doing paintings that later influenced movie images. Take a look at this painting, and tell me if you think this scene looks familiar. (Read more.)


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