100 Days of Art History Jinjins


Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses

Hey look, it's my friend John William Waterhouse again. This is the third painting I did by him in this project, out of five total. I think I may have done more paintings by him than any other individual artist.

He did a good job here showing a dramatic scene with a pretty lady who's clearly in charge here and in command of mystical powers. This fits right in with the aspirations for myself that I absorbed from a childhood of reading fantasy novels. (But you know what's really fantastical here? That she has no armpit hair.)

It was good practice to try this slightly upturned face angle, and it was fun to shade and color the skin and her dress (which I made slightly less translucent.) Doing this copy also helpmed me notice some fun details--the two lion heads on her chair (which I put glasses on), the dead boar at her feet (which I put glasses on), and the reflection of Ulysses shown in the mirror behind her (which I gave my face).

This depicts Circe, a sorceress from Greek mythology. Ulysses, aka Odysseus, comes to her island of Aeaea with his men. She offers them a potion that turns them into swine. With a little assist from the gods, Odysseus outwits her and ends up staying at her island for a while. They become lovers and she helps him the rest of the way on his journey. She's an interesting figure, like Morgan Le Fay, who can be seen as evil or good depending on whether or not she's mad at you.

Reference image is from Wikipedia. It is now in Gallery Oldham in Greater Manchester.

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