John William Waterhouse: Juliet

John William Waterhouse, R.A. (1849-1917) Juliet, signed ‘J.W. Waterhouse’ (lower right) oil on canvas, 28 3/8 x 19 in. (72 x 48 cm.), Image Source: Christie’s

“Here we see a lovely girl wearing a richly-coloured gown that closely resembles Mariana’s in its cut. Endowed with unusually curly hair (for Waterhouse), Juliet grasps her luxurious blue necklace nervously. She is presented in the full profile perfected by Italian Renaissance artists; for most of the 15th Century, privileged maidens ready to be married off (or recently wed) were depicted in just this pose, aloof from the viewer’s gaze. From around 1480, however, female sitters began to look out toward us. Waterhouse does not go quite that far, yet Juliet does give us a sidelong glance, as if she suspects that Romeo, or possibly the citizens of Verona (all invisible here), are watching her closely….

This subtle glance is insightful because Juliet is—literally—trapped in an impossible situation, unable to address it head on. Waterhouse underscores the girl’s predicament by positioning her within an unyielding grid of hard architectural forms: the massive brick footbridge and wall behind her, the grey parapet below her, and even the band-like blue river that separates her from the townscape beyond. The illusion of Juliet walking slowly along the river is enhanced by Waterhouse’s decision to cut off the masonry arch visible at top left, as well as the near end of the footbridge (bottom right). Had he painted these forms in their entirety, the scene would become more symmetrical and more static; here, instead, we can imagine Juliet gliding slowly toward the left, glancing warily in our direction.


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John William Waterhouse at wikiwand

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John William Waterhouse at wikimedia commons

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20 Comments Add yours

  1. John William Waterhouse is one of my favourite English artists. I really love this painting of Juliet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am happy you enjoy this — I just added many more Waterhouse posts to my drafts this week. More to come! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dracul. 🙂🎄

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ashley says:

    A stunning painting of Juliet, in a way, quite austere but beautiful. The red in her dress and the touch on her lips is rich and exciting; the blue of her necklace too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am pleased you enjoy this, too, Ashley. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂🎄

      Liked by 1 person

  3. shoreacres says:

    I almost took one of Waterhouse’s beauties for my avatar, until I decided on a snippet from Mucha’s Poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How lovely! I have been saving Mucha images that I want to draw someday. Thanks for linking. 🙂🎄


    1. I am so pleased you enjoy this, Luisa! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂🎄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re more than welcome 🙏💖🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oddly enough, I am wearing a modern day shirt kind of like hers, right now. However, I don’t have a crown on, and I am wearing jeans. I love this painting!!! I would love to see more of yours, too!! Thanks, Sunnyside!!♥️♥️♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, Susan! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 😎❤️❤️❤️🎄


  5. Beautiful work. So much said in that side glance. I’m not familiar with his work and look forward to seeing more. Thanks, Sunnyside 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, Rosaliene! I am so happy you like this. 🙂🎄

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visitin, Sheila! 😎❤️🎄


  6. Tamara Kulish from says:

    Very pretty! Love it! Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Tamara! 😎🎄❤️


      1. Tamara Kulish from says:

        Thanks so much! 🤩🙂😀


  7. jonicaggiano says:

    My first print was a Waterhouse. “The Lady of Shalott”. Thank you for this informative piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I love that one, too – it is scheduled next Tuesday! Thanks for visiting, Joni. 🙂🎄


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