Description of this painting
Pandora features the usual Waterhouse components: a beautiful maiden contemplating life in the midst of a forest scene.
The inspiration of this painter was classical literature throughout his career.
The painting captures the famous story of Pandora opening the fateful box of all evil. The artist adds to this scene some trees in the background that help create the particular atmosphere in which this young lady carefully opens the beautifully crafted box.
Behind her is a small gently trickling pond, suggesting a tranquil setting without distractions. The artist wanted to make sure that the viewer's eye also did not wander from the main subject of his painting. The sitter is fair-skinned, as are most of Waterhouse's muses, and this gives an impression of purity and vulnerability at the same time.
John William Waterhouse was certainly not the only artist to use Pandora's Box as inspiration for his work. Even in artists closely associated with Waterhouse, we can find works of art from the likes of Lawrence Alma-Tadema, with a beautiful watercolor painting by Pandora from 1881 and also a more famous oil painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti from 1871.
The story itself comes from Greek mythology dating back several thousand years. He was actually talking about a large jar used for storage, and it was only mistranslations that created this idea of Pandora's box, which originally came directly from Pandora in Hesiod's Works and Days.
The story has now become a common expression, which means the opening and release of abysmal problems, which are perhaps difficult to judge for their danger before being released. There is also a feeling that returning them to where they came from will be a particularly arduous task.
Pandora is an imagined reproduction of the mythical figure, rendered in a dark, monumental Gothic style by the renowned British painter. By the time of painting, Waterhouse had long established himself as one of the great artists of his day. As a young man, Waterhouse entered the Royal Academy in London and by the end of his studies was already participating in the institution's prestigious annual summer exhibition. Beginning first as a painter in the neoclassical style and attempting to produce true-to-life reproductions of the ancient world through close attention to archaeological artifacts, 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, especially in the guise of femme fatales, a recurring theme throughout her life. Having gradually eschewed his taste for narrative paintings towards the end of the century, Waterhouse began to focus predominantly on female figurative subjects, culminating in canvases as majestic as Pandora.
Waterhouse chooses to depict the figure as a being of unbearable curiosity as he gazes into the sacred vessel given to him, myth says, by the god Zeus to hold the blessings of the gods. Upon opening the chest, these divine wishes besieged the weaker human race with chaos and disorder. In myth, Pandora is depicted as the first woman on earth, created from the ground in response to the loss of heavenly fire from the thief Prometheus. Similar to Biblical Eve, Pandora's catastrophic curiosity is the cause of man's fall from grace and the favor of the gods.
One of the artist's most delicate canvases, it mercilessly projects a dreamy mysticism that seems to impregnate that childish curiosity that ignores the terrible fate that will come to it.
The message is clear, Pandora's box should never be opened.
This episode is fascinatingly recounted by the art historian, Miguel Calvo Santos , in the online magazine Historia del Arte , " But Pandora was created with something a priori positive: curiosity, and she couldn't resist opening the box. Nothing escaped from there. " more and nothing less all the evils in the world: old age, hunger, war, reggaeton, coronavirus, pineapple pizza..."
This Waterhouse masterpiece is one of the Kuadros team's favorite famous paintings.
This painting can adorn the wall of your home or office and become a topic of conversation with your friends and family for years to come.
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