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'A Painter of Pictures' by John Butler Yeats

An excerpt from an article written by John Butler Yeats (1839-1922) who remembered a visit to Waterhouse's studio around 1907. Yeats' article 'A Painter of Pictures' was published in The Freeman, 4th January, 1922.

The song of the lark is an ecstasy, the song of the nightingale is passionate; yet these birds and all the singing birds are the quietest of the feathered folk... Artists and poets are in this like the singing birds; their life also is song... For your and poet, unless he becomes a rhetorician, is a solitary and self-immersed in his own thoughts and has no desire to impress other people. Yet, though he be ever so anxious to live quietly with his neighbours, he has the artist's courage, without which his art would perish--the courage to be himself.


The late Mr. Waterhouse, the distinguished English painter, was a friend of mine. One day, just before I came to America, I paid a visit to his studio. He had built up an assemblage of I forget what objects, and these he was diligently painting. He himself, very like a savant rather than an artist, had all the docility and charm of a great student. His pictures were careful transcriptions of fact, as he saw it with his faithful eyes--photography rather than art, except that over the whole picture was a veil of ideality reminiscent of Burne-Jones, the artist at that time most fashionable in literary circles...Mr. Waterhouse sought an exact transcription of facts, as seen with the physical eye.

Reminiscences about J.W. Waterhouse

Almost nothing is known of Waterhouse's private life. Gathered here is a selection of mentions and anecdotes discovered by searching old magazines and books.

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