John William Waterhouse, 1849-1917
Oil on canvas
Height: 88 cm (34.6 in); Width: 42 cm (16.5 in)
Source:jwwaterhouse.com, with thanks.
Danni Cavellero finds something intimate and sensuous in the young woman's bending to enjoy the fragrance of the roses here (180), but does the momentary enjoyment of the senses really detract from the aura of chastity, in the surroundings of a temple? Does it then suggest that there is no situation in which our natural responses to the physical world around us can be overridden by the spiritual life?
At any rate, it is a pleasing composition: the supple, delicately-featured and -robed subject contrasts with the flight of stone steps leading down to this pretty corner. The shelf with its curving ends and blue bowls of cut flowers is complemented by the roses growing nearby, at their own will, a little untidily, in the left-hand corner. Fallen petals tell of both growth and decay in the physical world.