Continuing to paint antiquarian scenes, with perfect draftsmanship, Waterhouse’s subject above is less innocent than it appears. The children are not spectators, but performers. The weary postures and the down-turned flower in the boy’s hand may hint at the evanescence of childhood in the face of work and survival.
The child will perhaps be left in the Temple to sleep alone, breathing medicinal herbs, and hoping for a visitation from the Asclepius, once a Greek hero of the Trojan War, later turned god of healing.
‘Sweet Doing Nothing’ in translation.