JW Waterhouse (born between January and April 1849; died 10 February 1917) was an English artist specialize in the Pre-Raphaelite style. Waterhouse worked many years after the breakup of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which had seen its heyday in the mid-nineteenth century, leading him to have gained the moniker of “the modern Pre-Raphaelite”.Borrowing stylistic influences not just from the earlier Pre-Raphaelites and from his contemporaries, the Impressionists, Waterhouse's paintings were known for the depictions of ladies from both ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.
Waterhouse was born in Italy to English parents who were both artists, he moved to London later on, where he signed up for the Royal Academy of Art. He started exhibiting at their annual summer exhibitions very soon, concentrating on large canvas paintings on views from the daily life and mythology of ancient Greece. Later on in his career he came to accept the Pre-Raphaelite style of artwork even though that it was out of trend many decades before.
Although Waterhouse was not as famous as earlier Pre-Raphaelite artists like John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt, His art is now exhibited at various main British art galleries, along with the Royal Academy of Art organized a major retrospective of his paintings in 2009.
John William Waterhouse was born in the city of Rome to the British artists William and Isabella Waterhouse in 1849, in the same year that the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, as well as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais together with William Holman Hunt, were first leading to a stir in the London art landscape. His exact birth date is unknown, although he was baptised on 6 April, and the later scholar of Waterhouse's work, Peter Trippi, thought that he was born between Jan 1 and Jan 23. Waterhouse's early life in Italy has been mentioned as one of the reasons why quite a few of his later works of art were set in ancient Rome or based on scenes taken from Roman mythology.
In 1854, the Waterhouses went back to England and moved to a new house located in South Kensington near the victoria nad Albert museum. Waterhouse, or ‘Nino' as he was nicknamed, originating from an artistic family, was urged to try drawing, and usually sketched artworks that he found in the British Museum and the National Gallery. In 1871 he entered the Royal Academy of Art school to study suclpture, then moving on to painting.
John William Waterhouse's early art were not Pre-Raphaelite in nature, but were of classical themes in the spirit of Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton. These early painitngs were showed at the Dudley Gallery, and the Society of British Artists, and in 1874 his painting Sleep and his Half-brother Death was exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibition The artwork was a success and he would exhibit at the annual exhibition each year until 1916, with the exception of 1890 and 1915. He then went from strength to strength in the London art scene, with his 1876 piece After the Dance being given the prime position in that year's summer exhibition. Because of his success, Waterhouse's artworks became larger and larger in size.
In 1883 he married Esther Kenworthy. They did not have any kids. In 1895 he was elected to the status of full Academician. He taught at the St. John's Wood Art School, joined the St John's Wood Arts Club, and served on the Royal Academy Council.