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MITRA Forum Question Details

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    Question asked 2017-01-19 10:25:33 ... Most recent comment 2017-01-19 11:45:00
    Technical Art History
    Deseo saber sobre composición,materiales materiales en las obras de arte victoriano sobre todo en John w. Waterhouse.

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerJust for clarification for our non-Spanish speaking readers: I want to know about composition, materials in Victorian artworks especially in John W. Waterhouse.
    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2017-01-19 12:04:50
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Unfortunately, there is a lack of technical information concerning Waterhouse's materials and techniques. He has been the subject of at least two monographs and is included in many books on later Victorian painting but I know of no technical studies.

    Many lump him in with the late Pre-Raphaelites and there is some similarity in imagery but there is little to no similarity in technique, at least the techniques associated with the first group of PRB artists. Those interested in the techniques of the Pe-Raphaelite Brotherhood and other Victorian painters can read more about it in this publication and these links:

    Waterhouse painted in a time of real experimentation in terms of paint formulation. This is the era of the tempera revival. Those interested in the complexity of paint formulation in the period should take a look at the new publication here.

    Without archival evidence or analysis, there is no way to know for sure what he used but Waterhouse's paintings do appear to be executed in traditional oil paint. He did work on linen canvases but there is no published record of his choice of painting ground. There were many different ground preparations available during his day and these can greatly influence paint application and appearance. He also appeared to apply a varnish to his finished works rather than leave them more matte.

    Waterhouse's earlier work owes a debt to Lawrence Alma-Tadema in imagery but even there the similarity does not visually appear to extend to technique. I have to admit that I have only seen a handful of J W Waterhouse's paintings in person, the most important being The Lady of Shalott in the Tate Britain.

    Waterhouse did use a broader brush than many of his Victorian counterparts. There is mention of this in one of his monographs and it is visibly obvious when looking at his paintings. His mature works display both broad swaths of thin wash-like applications and regions of thicker paint and quite substantial impasto. Many of his paintings do exhibit pronounce drying cracks, especially in the thicker applied passages, but also to a degree in thinner regions. I suspect that his method involved repeated reworking in the more substantial areas. Sometimes other colors can be seen within the aperture of the drying cracks. The cracks also suggest that he may not has always let the lower layers dry enough before superimposing newer paint layers.

    I am sorry that I cannot give anything more useful than this. Perhaps another MITRA moderator or visitor has insight into his working methods that I lack.

    Baade, Brian
    2017-01-19 13:04:35

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