Sunday, February 7, 2010

John William Waterhouse - St Cecilia, 1895

"... in 'St Cecilia' Mr Waterhouse has taken another stride forward. There is not, perhaps, the mystery which has invested so many of his pictures with indescribable charm; but there are here greater merits, as compensation, in the composition, fine and well balanced, and a true sense of poetry, in its wider significance of conception, handling, colour, and painter-like quality. The artist's imagination....has been well supported by his generous palette; and his wealth of colour, of mauve and white, of green and blue and red, are resolved into a harmony exquisitely adapted to the subject." - The Magazine of Art via Christie's catalogue notes and Peter Trippi

My first opportunity to see Waterhouse's St Cecilia came in June 2000 when it was shown at Christie's in London. In December when I visited the exhibit in Montréal I was able to view it once more. This time, for more extended periods which was such a joy. I was able to stand closely and admire the artist's work. At other times, I was the only person in the room as I sat and gazed upon its beauty. I was able to visit the exhibit over a three day period. As I entered the exhibit for the first time and found works I had never seen in person before, tears of joy welled up. The colours were so much more vivid in person - the works so impressive. On my first day's visit when I arrived in the last room, I found St Cecilia there ... along with other wonderful works ... again the tears of joy came as the beauty of John William Waterhouse was all around me. Today is the last day of the exhibit ... so mixed feelings of regret and thankfulness surround me. I'm so glad I was able to make the trek to Montréal.

'In a clear walled city on the sea,
Near gilded organ pipes...
...slept St Cecily'

oil on canvas
48½ x 79 in. (123.2 x 200.7 cm.)

From Didier Rykner of The Art Tribune - an article about the exhibit.

From Matthew Innis - A visit with Waterhouse ...

From Margaret Smith - Enchantment blooms at Waterhouse exhibit ...

From Neil Miley who visited the exhibit at its first location - a review.

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