Echo and Narcissus

John William Waterhouse (English, 1849-1917) – Echo and Narcissus, 1903 (Oil on canvas. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) – – In this perfectly balanced painting, the nymph Echo, perched on a rock, tense with frustrated desire, gazes hopelessly at the languorous, lithe body of Narcissus as he gazes at his reflection in a pool, captivated by its beauty. The story, based on a Greek myth, is from the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Echo – who must repeat what’s said to her – is just one of many admirers – male as well as female – Narcissus has rejected. Taking pity on her, the goddess Nemesis decides to punish Narcissus for refusing love by making him fall in love with his own reflection. Here Echo is so close to Narcissus she can almost reach him, but the water separates her from him forever. And Narcissus himself can never be united with the object of his desire. – NégyArt (Szingy Books)

John William Waterhouse – Echo and Narcissus, 1903 (Szingy Gallery)

Birth of Venus

Sandro Botticelli (Italian, 1445-1510) – Birth of Venus, 1485 (Tempera on canvas. The Uffizi) – The composition shows the goddess of love and beauty arriving on land, on the island of Cyprus, born of the sea spray and blown there by the winds, Zephyr and, perhaps, Aura. She is met by a young woman, who is sometimes identified as one of the Graces or as the Hora of spring, and who holds out a cloak covered in flowers. Even the roses, blown in by the wind are a reminder of spring. The subject of the painting, which celebrates Venus as symbol of love and beauty, was perhaps suggested by the poet Agnolo Poliziano. Botticelli takes his inspiration from classical statues for Venus’ modest pose, as she covers her nakedness with long, blond hair, which has reflections of light from the fact that it has been gilded; even the Winds, the pair flying in one another’s embrace, is based on an ancient work, a gem from the Hellenistic period, owned by Lorenzo the Magnificent. – NégyArt (Szingy Books)

Sandro Botticelli – Birth of Venus, 1485

John William Waterhouse – Boreas

John William Waterhouse (English, 1849-1917) – Boreas, 1903 (Oil on canvas) – – Boreas is the name given by Ovidius to the cold northern wind. He can be seen in this painting only by the trees and clothes bending by his force. The woman that he is trying to catch is the Athenian princess, Oreithyia, who first declined his courtship, but cannot resist his brute power. She became later the goddess of mountain winds. This painting is even more powerful than the earlier “Windflowers” due to the use of cold colours and the protective position of the arms of the woman. – NégyArt (Szingy Books)

John William Waterhouse – Boreas, 1903, NégyArt

Ambrose McEvoy – Mrs Claude Johnson

Ambrose McEvoy (English, 1877-1927) – Mrs Claude Johnson c.1926 (Oil paint on canvas. Tate) –  – Mrs Johnson is depicted in a winter coat and a blue broad-brimmed hat, seated in an interior in front of a large, bright window. The sitter’s clothes and the pink blossom on the trees outside indicate that it is spring. McEvoy divided the canvas vertically into uneven thirds using the length of the window frames. This makes the painting appear narrower and encourages the viewer to focus on the sitter’s face in the centre of the canvas. McEvoy meticulously built up layers of coloured glazes with broad brushstrokes on a neutral, cream-coloured ground or primer. Although warmer hues dominate this composition, the slight cracking of the paint on the surface of Mrs Johnson’s coat reveals colder blue tones underneath. – NégyArt (Szingy Books)

Ambrose McEvoy – Mrs Claude Johnson c.1926

Portrait of Lady Lavery as Kathleen Ni Houlihan

John Lavery (Irish, 1856-1941) – Portrait of Lady Lavery as Kathleen Ni Houlihan, 1927 (Oil on canvas. On loan from the Central Bank of Ireland. National Gallery of Ireland) – – In 1927, Lavery agreed to assist the Currency Commission in the design of the first Free State banknotes. Reworking a portrait of his wife Hazel of 1909, he cast her as Kathleen ni Houlihan, the mythical heroine of W.B. Yeats’s play of 1902, and placed her against a view of the lakes of Killarney. The artist later quoted W.T. Cosgrave, President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, as saying of the banknotes: ‘Every Irishman, not to mention the foreigner who visits Ireland, will carry one next to his heart.’ – NégyArt (Szingy Books)

John Lavery – Portrait of Lady Lavery as Kathleen Ni Houlihan

John William Waterhouse – Windflowers

John William Waterhouse (English, 1849-1917) – Windflowers (Windswept), 1903 (Oil on canvas) – – A carefully-crafted full-length portrait of a woman in long, loose dress, the subject is seen struggling with the wind which flusters her hair and clothing, whilst she clings onto her recently collected flowers. For several years the artist had been interested in depicting nature within his work and also the impact of wind across the scene. Windflowers was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1903. – NégyArt (Szingy Books)

John William Waterhouse – Windflowers (Windswept), 1903

Nude Model in the Studio

Laura Knight (English, 1877-1972) – Nude Model in the Studio, c.1913 (Watercolour with gouache and pencil) – In 1913, Knight painted the revolutionary painting, Self Portrait with Nude. This subversive self-portrait was the first instance in the history of art of a painting depicting a female artist engaging in the practice of life drawing. This historically significant painting challenged the widespread barring of female students from life drawing classes. By creating works such as this, Knight was actively opening up a vital dialogue and encouraging a reassessment of the position of women within the art world. This drawing depicts a naked model casually tidying the studio – which may relate to Self Portrait with a Nude. – NégyArt (Szingy Books)

Laura Knight – Nude Model in the Studio, c.1913

Eleanor (1901)

Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862-1951) – Eleanor, 1901 (Oil on canvas. Rhode Island School of Design Museum) – – A sparkling icon of wholesome American girlhood, Frank Weston Benson’s Eleanor depicts the painter’s daughter in a summer dress while she shields her eyes from the summer sun.on the porch of their summer home. Benson won national acclaim for his sunny scenes of healthy children enjoying an outdoor country life… (NégyArt)

Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862-1951) – Eleanor, 1901

Julie Playing a Violin

Berthe Morisot (French, 1841-1895) – Julie Playing a Violin, 1893 (Oil on canvas) – – Morisot pictures her teenage daughter Julie in the interior of their apartment at 10 rue Weber, where they moved after the 1892 death of Morisot’s husband Eugene Manet. A portrait of Morisot is hanging on the wall to the left of the fireplace. Her brother-in-law Édouard Manet painted it in 1873, when Morisot was thirty-two years old and had just started showing with the Impressionists. Manet gave it to Morisot as a gift. According to Julie Morisot, the painting to the right of the fireplace – which is cut off and barely even depicted – is a painting of her father by Degas. In the center of the painting behind Julie, there is a large Chinese bowl, a treasured gift from Édouard Manet. – Szingy Gallery (NégyArt) –

Berthe Morisot – Julie Playing a Violin, 1893


Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862-1951) – Eleanor, 1907 (Oil on canvas. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) – – Eleanor depicts the painter’s daughter on the porch of their summer home at North Haven, Maine. Benson esteemed his academic training and never dissolved his figures into light to the degree that French artists favored. He used a small brush to define Eleanor’s features, painting her realistically with an authentic sense of weight and volume. But Benson gave himself much more freedom in other parts of the composition: the shimmering sea and leaves seem to vibrate with intensity, Eleanor’s pink dress is loosely painted with broad strokes, and the details of her hat are abbreviated. The whole effect is vital and effervescent, much like an ideal summer day. – Szingy Gallery (NégyArt)

Frank Weston Benson – Eleanor, 1907 (Szingy Gallery)