Soul of the Rose Painting

WHO WAS john william waterhouse?

His art styles included Classical and the pre-Raphaelite. He also explored classical art themes like Greek mythological figures. 


Also titled My Sweet Rose, this is an early 20th-century oil on canvas. It depicts the alluring sensuality characteristic of the artist’s painting oeuvre and his exploration of the female figure.

historical overview

John William Waterhouse’s subject matter comprised mainly of women from mythology like Greek and Arthurian/Medieval tales and legends.

influences and symbolism

There are three important ideas and motifs inherent in The Soul of the Rose painting by John William Waterhouse, namely, the significance of the rose.

subject matter

The central figure in The Soul of the Rose painting is a woman, she is seen from a side angle, sniffing a pink rose growing against a wall. Her right hand holds the rose to her nose, while her left hand gently rests against the wall.

subject matter

If we look at the surroundings, it is evident the woman stands in a courtyard of sorts. Behind her, in the lower right part of the composition, is a plant pot and what appears to be a sliver of a window just above it, the rest of the building is out of our view.

color and light

The color scheme The Soul of the Rose comprises soft and neutral tones. There are cool and warm colors creating a harmonious combination.


Waterhouse utilized thicker brushstrokes with a freedom of expression, we can see the visible brushstrokes in the background building and tree.


We are facing the central figure almost at eye level, as if we can step into the composition at any moment. She further fills up the foreground, giving us no choice but to engage with her experience and her feelings.