Waterhouse has often been regarded as the artist who painted The Lady of Shalott, rather than being understood himself. Most research completed on his career had examined the paintings, the drawings, but not so much the man himself and perhaps that has contributed to this situation. He was much better known during his own lifetime but, since then, his paintings have overtaken his own reputation.

Several recent publications have aimed at redressing this balance and we have drawn on those to peer more closely into the artist's own personality and behaviour, rather than just his artwork. Added to this, the Pre-Raphaelite movement was long since considered a local, British art movement that had failed to receive international acclaim but perhaps in recent years this has started to change.

Retrospectives have also been held on his career, but these are relatively rare. Most of his work is dispersed across a large number of private collections, making it relatively difficult to cultivate an exhbition of his work, though there remains a considerable appetite for his work, which has regained much of the interest from the public which it initially lost in the years after his death.

The Pre-Raphaelite movement itself has perhaps proven more popular with the public than it ever did with art academics. Many considered it to be re-hashing old ideas and techniques, but its style and content continues to gain support from art followers of all ages. The relatively low intereste from academics, sadly, has meant fewer publications on artists such as Waterhouse, and therefore fewer available quotes from his career.

Famous Quotes by John William Waterhouse

None as yet, but further research should uncover some in the future.

Quotes on John William Waterhouse by Art Historians and other Artists

As a prominent member of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, more research and opinion on Waterhouse's life and career has been formed by art historians within the UK. Recent generations have promoted this art movement and exhibitions focused on it are fairly common within some of the UK's national galleries and museums. Many of his original paintings and drawings can be sourced reasonably locally, compared to some of the other famous international artists, and interest from the public remains strong in this group of British artists.

Quotes and opinions have, therefore, been easy to find around his work from a variety of publications. We include some below, and more will be added over time. With the relative lack of direct attributable quotes from the artist himself, it made sense to at least include opinions from others.

Although one of the most popular paintings on display at Tate Britain is The Lady of Shalott, few of its numerous admirers know anything about its creator, John William Waterhouse. It is time to shed the light on the paradox of this artist, highly acclaimed and popular in his day yet long since forgotten, to allow the corpus of his work to receive, at last, the full degree of admiration and recognition that it truly deserves.

J.W. Waterhouse - The Modern Pre-Raphaelite by Elizabeth Prettejohn, Peter Trippi, Robert Upstone and Patty Wageman.

A latecomer to the movement, John William Waterhouse first embraced Pre-Raphaelitism several decades after the dissolution of the Brotherhood, combining the group's aesthetic with his own interest in classical themes. His style was critically acclaimed and he was soon elected as an associate of the Royal Academy.

The Pre-Raphaelites by Michael Robinson

John William Waterhouse RA (6 April 1849 – 10 February 1917) was an English painter known for working first in the Academic style and for then embracing the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood's style and subject matter. His artworks were known for their depictions of women from both ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.


He continued producing works of the mythological and literary themes throughout the 1890s and 1900s, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy, where he had been honoured as an associate member in 1885 and then a full Royal Academician in 1895. His virtually unchanging style and subject matter went out of vogue with the Modern trends of the turn of the 20th century, but a revived interest in his work came about in the late 20th century.


Among the painters of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, it was Waterhouse who made the greatest contribution to the classical movement. In his work the classicism of Leighton and the aestheticism of Burne-Jones are fused, to produce a highly individual and romantic style.

Christopher Wood

John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) was an English painter and draftsman, known for his work in Pre-Raphaelite style. He was born in Italy in 1849 to a family of painters. He had a passion for natural settings, and was inspired by strong, stunning female figures. This made his work extremely popular among his patrons.