Jan 262010
 
This autumn, when my husband and I were traveling in Quebec, I learned that the largest Retrospective Exhibit of J.W.W. Waterhouse’s work was going to shown at the Montreal Musee des Beaux-Arts from October to February 7. I decided that I HAD TO GO! I had already purchased tickets for myself and my daughter, Iphigeneia, when we learned that my husband had lung cancer. The trip was up in the air and looked likely to be canceled, as pursuing treatment for the cancer was of paramount and immediate importance. We thought initially, that surgery would be performed, but as it has turned out, we are going through chemo instead. Matt and I discussed it, and he felt we should go to Montreal. His treatment may be more difficult as time goes on, and his brother Mike and good friend Randy were willing to come and stay,….so we went.

One of the serendipitous delights of this trip was making the acquaintance of Josee (above). We ‘met’ by accident on the phone. I was working in my Customer Service capacity at Lands’ End Inc. and she was a customer. I noticed she was from Montreal and told her about my upcoming trip. I had not yet made any of the car rental or hotel arrangements as the trip was still up in the air. Josee volunteered to send me lodging and restaurant suggestions via e-mail. She was as good as her word, and soon Geneia and I were booked to stay at the Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy in Montreal’s Historic District. Not only that, but on the day of our arrival, she dropped off a packet of Visitor Information at the Auberge, so we would have it as soon as we drove in. (Geneia and I flew to Burlington, VT and drove to Montreal on Thursday, January 14.)
The photograph above is one that Geneia snapped on Friday, after we had spent noon and afternoon in the Exhibit. Josee met us in the Museum and we went out for coffee at a Patisserie nearby. We very much enjoyed meeting her in person and visitng about our travels, hers and ours. Merci, Josee! J ‘espere que nous nous reunissons encore!

G and I in our room kidding around.
Below, in one Blog entry after another, I’m posting all the major paintings we saw, together with literary references and personal comments.
As a young painter, Waterhouse, like other artists of his era, notably Lawrence Alma Tadema, was inspired by the excavations at Pompei to try to recapture the scenes of daily life in that lost and foreign world. ‘In the Peristyle’ is painted over a previous work, which one can see evidence of through the paint.
(Click on any of the following paintings to enlarge them.)

In the Peristyle 1874

Miranda 1875
Preraphaelites, like William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, has already painted scenes from Shakespeare’s plays as readily as historical scenes. This is Waterhouse’s debut with a Shakespearean subject from The Tempest. He will later return to this heroine, with a less restrained painting style.
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Jan 262010
 

Penelope and the Suitors 1912
Bronze Age (Mycenaean) Greece was imperfectly portrayed in the Iliad and Odyssey, since both poems were concretions of poetic material originating in the Bronze Age, but developed for at least four hundred years thereafter. However, the palaces of the Mycenaeans were being excavated in Waterhouse’s own lifetime. He clearly drew upon this new knowledge in his backdrop for Penelope, staving off her suitors until Odysseus (Ulysses) could return home.


‘I am Half Sick of Shadows, said the Lady of Shalott 1915
Notice upon the loom the tapestry from Waterhouse’s earlier painting of the Lady. Each picture is confined by the shape of the cirular mirror in which she sees reality reflected.


Miranda 1916
Waterhouse’s late Miranda is less restrained than his earlier Classical interpretation. She is now an active figure, less delicate; she strides rather than stepping demurely barefoot; she is perhaps a woman of the 20th Century despite her Renaissance costume.
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