Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 180.7 x 87.4 cm
Location: Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
The painting Circe Invidiosa by John William Waterhouse is an intriguing work that explores the character's ancestry, her reflection and the relationship between her ancestor. It is a classic example of a work of art that transcends time. Waterhouse's interpretation of Circe reveals the depth of the story's emotional themes. This work shows how the dark side of human nature is brought to light and how women find their identity and purpose in the universe.
In Circe Invidiosa, the pre-Raphaelite artist John William Waterhouse presents an image of the goddess as an evil creature. She is portrayed as a seductive figure by using dark colors and rich golds, giving the work an unflinching take on beauty and evil. This painting reveals Waterhouse's interest in female form and her fascination with mythological characters.
In the Greek myths, Circe was a goddess who enchanted the world and gave humans magical powers. She was the daughter of Helios and Perseis, and had three brothers and sisters – a sister who ruled Crete and a ruler of Colchis. She lived on an uninhabited island called Aiaia, and her powers were such that she could turn unexpected visitors into animals.
Waterhouse's evocative paintings of the mythological character Circe inspire the question, “Who is Circe?” She is often considered the daughter of the goddess Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft. The artist depicts her tipping a bowl of poison into a pool to transform her rival Scylla into a monster, which is visible beneath her feet. Waterhouse's painting reflects this complex, multifaceted myth.
Waterhouse painted the legendary Greek sorceress Circe twice in his career. His paintings of Circe were inspired by stories of mythology, as the Greek goddess is known for her ability to transform into a powerful, beautiful woman. Circe, as an ancient sorceress, possessed a vast knowledge of magic and was a powerful sorceress. Her depiction in this painting is a powerful example of Pre-Raphaelite art.
The story of Circe Invidiosa (1892 by John William Waterhouse) begins with her poisoning the water in Scylla's bath. She turns her rival into a sea monster by dumping a bowl of green poison into the water. In this powerful scene, Waterhouse employs brilliantly economical staging. Waterhouse shows Circe hovering over Scylla as she writhes beneath the surface, her hair billowing as the deadly vapours envelop her.