Some blog, huh? Well, I suppose I must write one before you all get bored of me and go throw yourselves in the front of fast moving objects because life has lost it’s meaning. The problem is, is that I’m pretty much a private kind of person. I find it awkward putting stuff on this site but I kinda like some of it as well. Weird.
Anyway, I went to see some John Waterhouse paintings this week at The Lady Lever Art Gallery here in Birkenhead. I’ve seen them before but I’ve re-discovered my love of his paintings recently (not that I ever really lost it). I went to the Walker in Liverpool the other week as well to see Echo and Narcissus. Seeing these paintings is a joy for me and it’s great to see them when you’ve only ever seen them in books. They are beautiful things and not a little haunting as well. Looking closely at Echo and Narcissus you could see each brush stroke clearly. It gave me a connection to John Waterhouse, picturing him as I did at his easel in some dim Victorian room making these finishing touches to his latest labour. Did he ever envisage then that people from all over the world would stand and inspect these works of his? I wonder. Unfortunately, the two paintings at The Lady Lever are high up, well beyond eye level; and to make matters worse the light from above reflects on them if you stand beneath so you can hardly see anything. You just have to stand back. The two paintings (The Decameron and The Enchanted Garden) were two of the last he ever did before he died in 1917, the latter of which went unfinished.
The Decameron is Italian classical prose written by Giovanni Boccaccio in the mid 14th century. It tells the story 7 women and 3 men who together flee a plague-stricken Florence to the countryside. They each, amongst other things, tell stories amounting to 100 in all. One of the stories told is illustrated in Waterhouse’s other painting at The Lady Lever, The Enchanted Garden.
The Enchanted Garden
In The Enchanted Garden Dianora, the main figure at the left of the painting, is being pursued by Ansaldo at the right. She agrees to become his mistress if he can produce in January a garden with all the flowers and fruits of summer. He succeeds with the help of a magician and here shows the distraught Dianora the garden. I only noticed when viewing the painting the snow on the steps on the left. It’s a shame it was never finished. I always wonder what other great works Waterhouse would have done had he lived longer. We will never know.
My next pilgrimage is to Manchester City Art Gallery to see Hylas and the Nymps, one of my faves (I’ve started a copy of my own which you can see on this page). Then there is an exhibition in London next year, the largest collection of Waterhouse paintings ever assembled, I believe. Can’t wait!