John William Waterhouse’s The Magic Circle painted in 1886 is a testament to the artist’s lifelong preoccupation with magic, mysticism, and miracles. Paired with his long-running tendency to depict romantic reproductions of literary heroines and tragic female figures, The Magic Circle is a painting emblematic of Waterhouse’s entire body of work. More often than not the female subject is featured as an enchantress, set to ensnare some unsuspecting male victim.
The Magic Circle is an early Waterhouse painting, reflecting the young artist’s love affair with the exotic, orientalised figure. A witch-like woman or prophetess, adorned in an ambiguous style, stands bearing a crescent-shaped symbol while drawing a protecting circle around herself. Beyond her the landscape is fraught and ominous, littered with animals and obstacles usually associated with evil or foreboding. Yet within the confines of her delineated sphere, objects of beauty flourish. Although an ambiguous canvas, The Magic Circle is a transitional work painted at a time that Waterhouse, who had begun first as a painter in the neo-classical style, started to portray the mythical world through the lens of the everyday.
As a young man Waterhouse entered the Royal Academy Schools and at the close of his studies he was already exhibited at the institution’s prestigious annual Summer Exhibition. Beginning first as a painter in the neo-classical style, and attempting to produce true-to-life reproductions of the ancient world through a close attention to archaeological artefacts, Waterhouse began to portray the Classical past through the lens of the everyday. By the end of the century Waterhouse had established a fervent interest in magic and the occult, particularly in the guise of femme fatales, a recurring theme throughout his life. In The Magic Circle Waterhouse seems to have created a patchwork reproduction of fragments of myth and legend into a celebration of mystery and beauty.
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Important Notes About Your Painting:
If you have any request to alter your reproduction of The Magic Circle 1886, you must email us after placing your order and we'll have an artist contact you. If you have another image of The Magic Circle 1886 that you would like the artist to work from, please include it as an attachment. Otherwise, we will reproduce the above image for you exactly as it is.
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