Medium: Oil on canvas
The Soul of the Flower is a 1909 painting by Waterhouse depicting a young woman, a character loosely based on the Arthurian legend of Merlin. Although it is difficult to determine who the woman is in the painting, critics have noted that her hair and complexion are akin to that of a redhead. In the poem Maud, Tennyson identifies the young woman as “Miss Muriel Foster.” The portraits are often over-complicated and dated, and there is little reason to doubt that the author intended to create a work that was of a timeless nature.
Waterhouse’s interpretation of the rose
In his 1889 oil painting, Waterhouse personified the rose, connecting it to the ideals of his time. Waterhouse’s interpretation is ambiguous, but it does not contradict the underlying medievalism of the painting. The woman leans forward to smell the rose, her gaze half-closed, implying her longing for someone who has passed. Waterhouse enacted the ideals of his time by portraying a woman who feels a sense of loss and longing for the past.
Waterhouse’s romantic vision
John William Waterhouse painted ‘The Soul of a Rose’ in 1908, and several works similar to it depict women and roses. Waterhouse was a Romantic painter who favored natural settings and strong female figures. His work was popular with patrons, and he painted scenes of myths and classical subjects, while also mixing Romantic and Neoclassical themes. Today, the art of John William Waterhouse is popular with collectors and is still in high demand.
Waterhouse’s female figure
The Female Figure in The Soul of the Rose is a study in the arcadian imagery of the early twentieth century. Waterhouse primarily painted young women with dark hair in these paintings. The female figures in the works were rarely identified, although critics have commented on their life and vitality. Waterhouse used models to depict their positions and shapes. This painting is not only a study in arcadian imagery, but it also serves as an important example of the artist’s talent as a portraitist.