John William Waterhouse: A Tale from the Decameron, 1916
John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)
The early works of Waterhouse were of a classical style and were heavily influenced by artists such as Leighton and Alma-Tadema. He made several trips to Italy where he found inspiration for his paintings and began to produce large canvases using classical compositions and the Pre-Raphaelite concepts of beautiful women who were ultimately tragic or powerful. He was active several decades after the break-up of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which had seen its heyday in the mid-nineteenth century, leading him to be known as "the modern Pre-Raphaelite". Borrowing stylistic influences not only from the earlier Pre-Raphaelites but also from his contemporaries, the Impressionists, his artworks were known for their depictions of women from both ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.
Like many of the Pre-Raphaelite artists whom he admired, Waterhouse was interested in medieval literature; this painting depicts a scene from the frame story of Boccaccio's Decameron. Waterhouse picks up not only on the performative prowess of the young storytellers but also on their high cultural aspirations, as reflected in their attire and the presence of musical instruments. The opulence of their clothing and surroundings also bespeaks the aristocratic values that the emerging Florentine merchant class desired to emulate.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-761: card size 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)