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.
Unlike a large proportion of Waterhouse's other work, The Soul of the Rose is not a scene taken from a famous or ancient tale of love. Instead it is a study of a woman in a garden thought to be based on the work of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Waterhouse often incorporated a great sense of sensuality in his women, whether in the form of naked flesh or simply a delicate look. Restrained sexuality and longing for an invisible love are key themes in The Soul of the Rose and the artist portrays the woman in the picture without any obvious sexuality, but her position against the wall and her delicate hand indicate subtle sensuality.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-756: 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)