Painters Paintings John William Waterhouse (1849 – 1917): Ulysses and the Sirens (detail), 1891, oi…
Painters Work John William Waterhouse (1849 – 1917): Ulysses and the Sirens (element), 1891, oil on canvas, 100.6 × 202 cm (39.6 × 79.5 in), Nationwide Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
On the time ‘Ulysses and the Sirens’ was executed, Waterhouse had made a determined shift in material, in direction of Greek legend. In his youthful work, Waterhouse had proven a predilection for scenes of on a regular basis home life in historic Rome. He subsequently entered a interval of ‘picturesque mysticism’ and it was solely in Ulysses and the Sirens that the model for which he’s now recognised first started to appear.
Waterhouse has chosen for illustration the well-known passage within the twelfth ebook of the ‘Odyssey’ of Homer, through which the poet has described the passage of the wanderer’s vessel by way of the Strait of Messina, with Scylla on the one aspect and Charybdis on the opposite. ‘Ulysses and the Sirens’ depicts the second when Ulysses and his companions are threatened on their voyage house by the sirens, half fowl and half lady creatures in Greek mythology who lured sailors to destruction. Ulysses, suggested by the sorceress Circe, escaped the hazard of their track, by stopping up the ears of his males with wax, and had himself tied to the mast. Throughout flap the sirens. Waterhouse took this concept of sirens from a Greek vase within the British Museum, however the figures of the birds additionally recall the Egyptian image of the winged scarab. The boat, the frightened figures of the sailors, and the bleakly rocky setting are all painted with sturdy realism, and the intrusion of the sirens offers the image a sinister and terrifying impact.
This portray has a “bizarre, menacing and nightmarish” dramatic instensity nearly distinctive within the painter’s work. It combines romance and realism in Waterhouse’s attribute approach. By no means once more would the sinister harpies of Ulysses and the Sirens floor in his artwork.