The Shrine 1895

Date: 1895
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 88 x 42 cm

The Shrine by John William Waterhouse was released in the year 1895. The Shrine features a young woman in a quiet corner of a large garden, smelling flowers. Like other works of Waterhouse's time, this painting is reminiscent of the period. The model was also a favourite of Waterhouse, displaying pale skin and soft facial features. Her slim build also matched the ethos of Waterhouse's paintings.

Victorian dress

A young girl sneezes while perusing the flowers in Victorian dress in the famous 1895 painting, The Shrine by John William Waterhouse. A critic for the Atheneum could not reconcile the sacredness of the shrine with the vulgar act of smelling. He suggested that the apparent depiction of smelling was the result of the sketchy nature of the painting.

In the 1880s, Waterhouse painted the Lady of Shalott, which was inspired by the famous poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The woman is Elaine of Astolat, who dies of a mysterious curse when she looks at the knight-errant Lancelot. Waterhouse painted the woman three times. Another favorite subject of Waterhouse was Ophelia. She is depicted near the water.

The Victorian dress in The Shrine 1895 by a sultry woman in an ornate graveyard is relatively unremarkable in this composition. In fact, her dress might be an impostor's cloak, a solitary flower and a simple hat. But the architectural touches of this piece remind us of Alma Tadema. In fact, it is not easy to determine the identity of the woman solely based on the features and clothes of this Victorian woman.

Symbolist themes

Among the Symbolist themes in The Shrine by John William Waterhouse are the interactions between the sexes, including a scene of Hylas and the Nymphs. The setting is a murky woodland, and one nymph is seated on a tree, spying on her young lover Pan. The nymph has no clothes, and leaves barely cover her vagina. Like many Symbolist artists, Waterhouse also influenced his paintings by depicting mythical creatures, such as the nymph Ophelia by John Everett Millais.

The Shrine was published in 1895, the same year that the Full Academician was published. While the Atheneum critic had anticipated the upcoming exhibition, he had trouble reconciling the inviolability of the shrine with the vulgarity of the act of smelling. Ultimately, he proposed that the apparent depiction of smelling was the result of sketchy painting and not the actual action.