Painter of classical, historical, and literary subjects. Waterhouse was born in 1849 in Rome, where his father worked as a painter. In the 1850s the family returned to England. Before entering the Royal Academy schools in 1870, Waterhouse assisted his father in his studio. His early works were of classical themes in the spirit of Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton, and were exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Society of British Artists and the Dudley Gallery. In the late 1870s and the 1880s, Waterhouse made several trips to Italy, where he painted genre scenes. After his marriage in 1883, he took up residence at the Primrose Hill Studios. He was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour in 1883 and resigned in 1889. In 1884, his Royal Academy submission 'Consulting the Oracle' brought him favourable reviews; it was purchased by Sir Henry Tate, who also purchased 'The Lady of Shalott' from the 1888 Academy exhibition. The latter painting reveals Waterhouse's growing interest in themes associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, particularly tragic or powerful femmes fatales, as well as plein-air painting. In 1885 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and a full member in 1895. In the mid-1880s Waterhouse began exhibiting with the Grosvenor Gallery and its successor, the New Gallery, as well as provincial exhibitions in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. Paintings of this period, such as 'Mariamne' (1889), were exhibited widely in England and abroad as part of the international symbolist movement. In the 1890s Waterhouse began to exhibit portraits. In 1901 he moved to St John's Wood and joined the St John's Wood Arts Club, a social organization that included Lawrence Alma-Tadema and George Clausen. He also served on the advisory council of the Saint John's Wood Art School. Waterhouse continued to paint until his death in 1917. His somewhat neglected grave can be found at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

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