Friday, July 9, 2010

Sotheby's to Sell Rediscovered Drawing by John William Waterhouse

LONDON.- On Thursday, 13th July, in Sotheby’s London sale of Victorian and Edwardian Art, a newly discovered drawing by John William Waterhouse (1849‐1917) will spearhead the selection of works on paper. Unrecorded in the literature on the artist, the charcoal study of Flora comes to the market following the recent Waterhouse retrospective at the Royal Academy in London and in the Netherlands and Canada. Flora’s mythology appears to have obsessed Waterhouse. There are several paintings by the artist that depict her specifically, such as Flora and the Zephyrs and Boreas, and this beautiful drawing relates to the central figure in Flora and the Zephyrs. Few drawings of this quality by the artist survive and, although ostensibly depicting a nymph of Roman mythology, it captures the real and tangible beauty of the young girl who posed for it. Energetic, confident and expressive, Flora reveals Waterhouse’s remarkable technical skill and prowess as a draughtsman. It is estimated at £70,000‐100,000.

The immediate connotation of Flora, established over many centuries, is the connection between women, flowers, the fertility of nature and the pagan idea of rebirth. Here, Flora is shown holding her hair as it is lifted by the wind’s gentle gusts, as personified by Zephyr. Zephyr first fell in love with the nymph as she gathered flowers, and he flew down with his winged companions to carry her away with a girdle made of white roses. Waterhouse imparts his subject with an erotic charge, in keeping with the powerful sexual element that gives his most successful works their compelling attraction.

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