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Q: Question for Answerfinder-ga -- re model in Waterhouse paintings ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Question for Answerfinder-ga -- re model in Waterhouse paintings
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Visual Arts
Asked by: marcdrogin-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 04 Jul 2006 15:24 PDT
Expires: 03 Aug 2006 15:24 PDT
Question ID: 743361
Answerfinder-ga, you kindly complimented me on my taste in choosing
two "very nice pictures"and hoping I would enjoy them when I acquired
copies for my home.  You don't know the half of it.

A few weeks ago, staring idly at the screen on my laptop computer, I
decided it would be a joy to have an ever-changing array of my
favorite paintings as desktop images.  The first painting I pursued
via Google Images was John William Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott. 
And suddenly the whole beautiful world of Waterhouse's paintings
emerged.  Since I've spent many years researching, writing about and
teaching mediaeval scripts, I needn't try to explain to you what
enormous pleasure it
was to see his interpretation of mediaeval themes.

Hunting one day for yet more examples of his work I clicked on a
website... and there was my wife.  What I had found was the chalk
study The Sketch for Lady Clare Small.  It was a portrait of my wife. 
Please don't misunderstand; it didn't remind me of my wife, it wasn't
reminiscent of my wife, it was a precise exact perfect sketch of her. 
Were it not for the fact that the sketch dates to circa 1900 and that
my wife at that general age would have had to sit for it in the
mid-1950's [she is 70 now], it is she.

And just a few days ago I found a second sketch, again of her.

It is the most astonishing thing to sit and look at these two works
and be looking back half a century at the beautiful woman I married.

The more I look at Waterhouse's work the more I think I see that model
appearing here and there in a wealth of his paintings.  Sometimes her
face is elusive, sometimes obvious.

Now I am curious.  Can you possibly tell me who this model was?  Is
there anything known about her?  Is she recorded as having been the
model for other of Waterhouse's specific paintings?  It is so strange
to sit here and look into those sketches and feel sad  never having
known someone who probably died a century ago and whose exact image
reappeared as my wife half a century later.

The two sketches can be seen at:
Subject: Re: Question for Answerfinder-ga -- re model in Waterhouse paintings
Answered By: answerfinder-ga on 05 Jul 2006 02:02 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear marcdrogin-ga,

What an amazing, spine-tingling experience it must be to discover
these pictures. It must bring back so many memories for you. Let me
see I can help further.

When Waterhouse died he left few documents which gave information on
who his models were. It was known at an early stage that in his early
career family members sat for him, but it was not until recently that
academic research has identified two models: Muriel Foster, and Mary
Lloyd who also posed for Frederic Lord Leighton. There may be others,
but Foster, or idealised portraits based on her, may be the primary
model source after 1895. This however, is still open to debate as
there is still another dark-haired girl who remains unidentified. The
model for Lady Clare has not been idenified with any certainty. Given
time and your particular interest, and having read the below sources,
you may perhaps carry out your own investigation and look at all his
images and perhaps come to your own conclusions on which model posed
for Lady Clare.

This is an excellent site on Waterhouse which contains two articles on his models.

The first page is on how Muriel Foster was identified. It details
several academic sources and compares images.
The Waterhouse Ideal - An Essay by Cathy Baker

(The article appears in full in The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies,
Volume  8, New Series, Fall, 1999.
'Miss Muriel Foster: the John William Waterhouse Model' author: James
K Baker and Cathy L Baker. Back issues may be available through this

This second page deals with Mary Lloyd

You may have come across it already, this is the poem ?Lady Clare? by
Tennyson which inspired the painting.

The story of Muriel Foster has inspired this fictional account of her
life. You may be interested in the Prologue. (On Google Print. You may
have to register to view it.)
Murielle: The Story of a Model, a Painting, and the Artistry of John
William Waterhouse

This period of art history - the Pre-Raphaelites and Victorian Gothic
- were part of my art history degree, so I very much enjoyed this
research. Thank you.

I hope this answers your question. If it does not, or the answer is
unclear, then please ask for clarification of this research before
rating the answer. I shall respond to the clarification request as
soon as I receive it.
Thank you
marcdrogin-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Dear Answerfinder-ga --

I should have mentioned that I'd read some of those sources and come
to the conclusion, from available illustrations, that Muriel Foster
was not the model who posed for the sketches of my wife.  Mrs.
Waterhouse also bore no similarity based on the oil portrait
Waterhouse painted.  Your information sent me after Mary Lloyd who
also cannot be the model in question.

The additional sources you sent me to did provide two valuable points
to consider.  First, that Waterhouse sketched not only professional
models but friends as well -- which opens the field enormously.  And
that pre-raphaelite artists were known to adjust the features of a
model to suit their own concept of beauty when painting.

In conclusion it is probably impossible to find the very model in
question.  If she actually existed precisely as sketched.  And maybe
that is a nice way to end it.  A woman should have a bit of mystery,
after all.

Thank you so much,

Subject: Re: Question for Answerfinder-ga -- re model in Waterhouse paintings
From: myoarin-ga on 05 Jul 2006 04:23 PDT
What a nice compliment to your wife, that in younger years her face
was such a double for that of an artist's favorite model, perhaps even
a double for his idealized images of the model.  :-)
Subject: Re: Question for Answerfinder-ga -- re model in Waterhouse paintings
From: answerfinder-ga on 05 Jul 2006 07:49 PDT
Dear marcdrogin-ga,
I'm sorry that some of the research was not new to you, but I am
pleased to hear that it did open up new avenues for you.
Now you've found Waterhouse, may I recommend another painter to explore: 
Edward Burne-Jones - again mediaeval and classical themes. Again with
some idealised images.
Thank for the tip.
Subject: Re: Question for Answerfinder-ga -- re model in Waterhouse paintings
From: pinkfreud-ga on 05 Jul 2006 11:10 PDT
I believe it is not uncommon to find a striking resemblance in
artwork. Forty years ago, when I was 18 years old, I attended a poetry
reading at the home of a well-to-do elderly gentleman. When I entered
the house, the homeowner gasped and said that I was the exact image of
a woman in a Victorian print that he treasured. I was skeptical of
this, taking it for flattery, until I saw the print in question, which
was framed and displayed on a stairway wall among numerous prints from
the Victorian era. The girl in the print could have been my identical
twin! Unfortunately, the owner of the print knew nothing about the
history of the artist or the model, so I never learned more.
Subject: Re: Question for Answerfinder-ga -- re model in Waterhouse paintings
From: myoarin-ga on 05 Jul 2006 17:56 PDT
Ah, now I can envisage Pinkfreud as my favorite Pre-Raphaelite model.  :-)
Subject: Re: Question for Answerfinder-ga -- re model in Waterhouse paintings
From: marcdrogin-ga on 05 Jul 2006 19:02 PDT
Quite right.  She's one of my favorite answerers and my eyes always
light up when I see she's tackled a question.  Delighted now to
picture her as a pre-raphaelite model.  Makes Google Answers a
prettier place to visit!

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