The story of Echo and Narcissus comes from Greek Mythology and tells the tale of Echo, a wood nymph’s love for a beautiful youth, Narcissus. Sadly for Echo although many loved Narcissus, who enjoyed the attention, praise and envy, he, on the other hand, loved nobody considering all his “worshippers” to be unworthy of him. After Echo had died of a broken heart, Narcissus continued to attract many nymphs all of whom he briefly entertained before scorning and refusing them. The Gods were angered by his behaviour and cursed him and made it so there was only one whom he would love, someone who was not real and could never love him back.
One day whilst walking through the woods, Narcissus came upon a pool of water. He looked in it and caught a glimpse of what he thought was a beautiful water spirit but in fact was his own reflection. He bent to kiss the image which mimicked his actions. He reached into the pool to touch the spirit but of course the image was destroyed. When the water settled the image reappeared only to be destroyed again every time he touched the water’s surface. Narcissus could only lay by the pool gazing in to the eyes of his beloved vision.
My Daily Art Display painting today is entitled Echo and Narcissus and is by the English pre-Raphelite painter John William Waterhouse. The painting which can be found in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool was painted in 1903 and shows the unhappy Narcissus gazing at his own reflection in the pool whilst the unhappy rejected nymph Echo looks on. Waterhouse was of a younger generation of pre-Raphaelites than Dante Rossetti and his subjects of doomed and unhappy love were prettier, less disturbing and more widely popular than theirs.
Have you a favourite painting which you would like to see on My Daily Art Display?
If so, let me know and tell me why it is a favourite of yours and I will include it in a future offering.
One thought on “Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse”
And thus she sung, and pleased both skies and ground:
” `Ye happy youths, who April fresh and May
Attire in flowering green of lusty age,
For glory vain, or virtue’s idle ray,
Do not your tender limbs to toil engage;
In calm streams, fishes; birds, in sunshine play,
Who followeth pleasure he is only sage,
So nature saith, yet gainst her sacred will
Why still rebel you, and why strive you still?”