Dolce far Niente 1880

Date: 1880
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 50 x 95.5 cm
Location: Kirkcaldy Museum & Art Gallery, Kirkcaldy, Fife, UK

Dolce far niente, also known as the “Lovely Day” in Italian, is a painting by John William Waterhouse from the year 1880. It is one of his larger works, and is now housed in the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery in Scotland. The painting depicts everyday life in the ancient world, with many of its elements derived from the compositions of ancient vase paintings. The painting features women reclining on couches, as well as statuettes and drinking vessels.

The title Dolce far Niente is an Italian phrase which is the subject of a painting by John William Waterhouse. It is the title of a painting by the artist, executed a year earlier. While the two paintings may not be very similar in style, the paintings are evocative of the same mood. Dolce far Niente depicts a woman relaxing on a couch with a fan. The painter's composition, light tones and delicate folds compliment the natural beauty of the model.

The title of this painting suggests association with Italianate subjects and light-hearted themes. Although Waterhouse was not a Capri native, his reputation would eclipse that of his contemporary, Alma-Tadema. A Pompeian-style light illuminates the upper-right corner of the work. A deep blue vase holds a sunflower. Waterhouse's luminous palette also shows an appreciation for natural and organic forms.