Gather Ye Rosebuds while ye may

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John William Waterhouse

1849-1917

English , Victorian Romanticist painter and draftsman

Gather Ye Rosebuds while ye may

1908

61.6 x 45.7 cms | 24 1/4 x 17 3/4 ins
Oil on canvas

A young woman stands holding a bowl stretched out to the viewer filled with roses. Her head is elevated slightly and her eyes peer out through a window which can be seen reflected in a mirror behind her. Two purple flowers can also be seen reflected in the mirror, one wilting and one standing tall and strait. This painting acknowledges the passing of time and how quickly life vanishes. The title Gather Ye Rosebuds while Ye May reveals the true meaning in this painting. One must gather rosebuds because they bloom and wilt quickly just as the beauty of the girl will quickly fade to dust and she will no longer be able to pick them. This meaning is even more poignant when one realizes that the painting was painted 95 years ago and both the artist and the girl depicted are dead. Waterhouse painted another painting with the same theme also entitled Gather Ye Rosebuds while Ye May where two women are picking roses out in a garden.
-- Kara Ross