April 6, 2013 - Happy Birthday, John William Waterhouse!

I see this guy's art on posters, refrigerator magnets, calendars, journal covers, even cups and t-shirts and tote bags! (Zazzle sells SIXTY different iPhone cases decorated with his art!!!)

And although I should be used to it, since we have some of these things in the house—things I see every day!—I almost always catch my breath and turn my head to give a second glance. I just really love the romantic old-world vibe of Waterhouse's paintings!

John William Waterhouse is listed in some places as having been born on this date in 1849. But Wikipedia says that he was born between January and April of that year! (That's quite a range of uncertainty, for the 1800s!) Whenever Waterhouse was born, we do know that this English artist was born in Rome, Italy, where his parents were working as painters. We see this Italian influence in the fact that, all his life, Waterhouse his family nickname was Nino, which is Italian for “darling."

When Waterhouse was just five years old, his family returned to London, England, where they lived near the very cool Victoria and Albert Museum. His artist parents encouraged him to draw and sketch, and he used to sketch artworks hanging in the British Museum and the National Gallery. 

What an amazing city to grow up in!

After studying sculpture and painting in the Royal Academy of Art, Waterhouse found early success painting classical scenes. (Neo-classical art depicts ancient Greek or Roman figures and settings and themes. Many people speculate that Waterhouse's early childhood in Rome inspired his interest in these topics.) Soon, however, Waterhouse's paintings began to seem more like Romantic Pre-Raphaelite art—even though the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had broken up decades ago and was at this point “out of style”!

Waterhouse is most famous for his Arthurian paintings such as The Lady of Shalott. Look through these painting galleries to enjoy his art. 

JigZone offers an online jigsaw puzzle created from JWW's most iconic painting. Note: you can change the number of pieces by clicking “Change Cut” on the left side of the page. 

Also on this date:

Be sure to check out the story of Robert Garrett, pictured here. It's pretty strange and cool!

World Pillow Fight Day - Check out last year's post...

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