Circe Invidiosa

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Circe Invidiosa, 1892.

Circe Invidiosa (Circe, the envious woman) is an oil painting in the Pre-Raphaelite style by John William Waterhouse, finished in 1892. It is a depiction of a scene from Homer's Odyssey where the goddess Circe poisons water to awaken the monster Scylla. Circe, standing on the water of the strait, pours the poison into the water and Scylla can be seen writhing just under the surface. This is the second of three paintings Waterhouse did of Circe. The first is Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses, the third is The Sorceress.


I'm pretty sure I first saw this photo online while looking though a collection of Waterhouse's work. I adore the color palette in this painting. The bright green potion being poured into the water stands out from Circe's peacock blue-green gown, which itself is a darker form of the water. Like much of Waterhouse's work, the eye is drawn to the foreground because of its expertly painted detail. I particularly like the water just as it's pouring out and the bubbles it makes in the sea. Both the land and water background sections are scantly detailed, but this effectively cuts the painting in half, and helps to make Circe stand out. The female subject is, typically, gorgeous and only partially clothed. The malicious look on Circe's face is especially interesting.