Jan 262010
 

Mariamne 1887
Mariamne was the second wife of Herod the Great, a very paranoid man. She was evidently so beautiful that Herod gave instructions that if he himself were to die, she should be put to death also, since Herod expected another man would want her once he himself was out of the way. He became convinced that she had committed adultery. In this painting, the Judges in the background have condemned her to death, a cowardly action in the face of little evidence, in order to please Herod. They may further have disliked her pride and outspokenness. Herod is portrayed as indecisive and agonized, wildly swinging from one emotion to another, as is characteristic of paranoids. Legend has it that Herod, loth to lose her entirely, kept her body preserved in honey for seven years afterward.


Cleopatra 1888
‘Where’s my serpent of the old Nile? For so he calls me.’
Antony and Cleopatra, William Shakespeare, Act 1


The Lady of Shalott 1888
(Click on any of these paintings for a large view.)
Simply my favorite painting in the whole world. Standing next to this painting, the Lady stands out from the background almost physically, owing to the muted background being painted thinly and the built-up, almost sculptured paint on the figure. This painting, which is large, was to some extent painted en plein air in order to render the landscape more real. It must have been very difficult to anchor so large a canvas in even a mild wind. However, it is utterly real to look upon. Definitely worth the trouble. Some of Waterhouse’s pastoral paintings of later years don’t look like real English countryside. This one does.


Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses 1891
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