John William Waterhouse. Ariadne. 1898. Oil on canvas. 35 x 50 in. Source: "Plum Leaves" on Flickr, kindly made available on the Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence. The work is in a private collection. [Click here for an image of the work from The Studio of 1898 ("A Record of Art in 1898," p. 125), when it was in the collection of H. W. Henderson. — George P. Landow]

In classical mythology, Ariadne was the beautiful daughter of Minos, King of Crete. She was the one who gave Theseus the spool of thread that helped him escape from the labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur. The two left Crete together, but Theseus abandoned her on another island, Naxos: he set sail from this island while she was asleep (the scene depicted above). Dionysius discovered her here. He fell in love with her and married her. — JB

Related Material


Hobson, Anthony. The Art and Life of J. W. Waterhouse, RA, 1849-1917. London: Studo Vista/Christie's, 1980.

Trippi, Peter. J. W. Waterhouse. London: Phaidon, 2002.

Trumble, Angus. Love and Death in the Age of Queen Victoria. Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia. 2002.

Last modified 19 August 2021