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The Long Wait: Best Waiting Paintings

Alfred Stevens, Déjà, ca. 1862-1864. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Art State of Mind

The Long Wait: Best Waiting Paintings

As the world continues to witness the devastating spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, most of us find ourselves confined to our homes under shelter-in-place restrictions. There is a global sense of melancholy as we eagerly await the world to get back to normal so we may resume our daily lives and routines. The following are 10 best waiting paintings where the artist has masterfully captured the wait and longing that so many of us identify with right now.

1. Light of Spring by Carl Holsøe

Carl Holsøe, Light of Spring (Detail). Source: Sotheby’s/ Private Collection.

Carl Holsøe (1863-1935) was a successful Scandinavian artist who enjoyed considerable success throughout Europe during his lifetime. He was one of the three main proponents of the Danish School of Interior painting. This painting masterfully employs light and color to convey a somber and introspective calm.

2. Awaiting his return by William Ladd Taylor

Best Waiting Paintings
William Ladd Taylor, Awaiting his return. Source: Sotheby’s/ Private Collection.

In the selection of the best waiting paintings, this delicate oil on canvas painting by William Ladd Taylor (1854-1926) takes a special place. It is believed to have been illustrated for Saturday Evening Post of the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

3. Two Women at a Window by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Best Waiting Paintings
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Two Women at a Window, ca. 1655 to 1660, Spain. Source: National Gallery of Art.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 to 1682) was a Spanish Baroque painter best for his religious works. He also created many portraits, such as this one depicting contemporary women and children. His works constitute an extensive record of everyday life in 17th Century, Spain. Murillo masterfully depicts the subtle emotions of his sitters – in this painting, the boredom of the young child and the shy amusement and curiosity of the older woman is conveyed in the clearest sense.

4. Reverie by Winslow Homer

Best Waiting Paintings
Winslow Homer, Reverie, ca. 1836 – 1910. Source: Sotheby’s/ Private Collection.

Winslow Homer (1836 – 1910) was a well-known American artist from the 19th century. This painting is one of four canvases created by him in the summer of 1872 when Homer spend time in the picturesque town of Hurley – a Dutch settlement in Ulster County, New York. 

The four related canvases share the common theme of a young woman sitting in the dark interior of the room peering out of an open window. Here the woman is depicted in 17th Century Dutch costume as she sits in quiet and thoughtful contemplation. The room is bare and her view is unhindered.  The flowers outside her window hint at springtime.

5. Cape Cod Morning by Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning, ca. 1950 © Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, USA.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967) is an internationally acclaimed realist painter, who has been celebrated as one of America’s best-known artists. He has been renowned as the master of loneliness and his works often convey an overwhelming sense of solitude and melancholy.

In his, Cape Cod Morning he depicts a woman peering through a tall bay window, riveted by and in anxious anticipation of something she sees in the distance.

6. Awaiting the Suitor by Gustave Léonard de Jonghe

Best Waiting Paintings
Gustave Léonard de Jonghe, Awaiting the Suitor, ca. 1829 – 1893. Source: Bonhams.

Gustave Léonard de Jonghe (1829 – 1893) was the son of Jan Baptiste de Jonghe, a prominent Flemish landscape painter. After his father died when he was only 15, Gustave was granted a scholarship by his native city that allowed him to continue his artistic endeavors. Though an onset of blindness caused by a cerebral hemorrhage in 1882 ended his artistic career, he left an extensive oeuvre of impressive artworks that explored a variety of themes. He enjoyed considerable success for portraitures such as these, depicting fashionable ladies of society in richly adorned interiors.

7. Melancholy Poster by Alfred Stevens

Best Waiting Paintings
Alfred Stevens Melancholy Poster, Belgium. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Alfred Stevens (1823-1906) came from a family that was intimately involved in the art circles of 19th century Brussels. He trained at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and became closely acquainted with many important artists of his day such as Eugène Delacroix, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Charles Baudelaire, and William Merritt Chase to name a few. He became acclaimed for his works depicting fashionable women of his day.

8. The Tall Windows by Vilhelm Hammershøi

Best Waiting Paintings
Vilhelm Hammershøi, The Tall Windows, ca. 1913, Denmark. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) was a proponent of the Danish School of Interior painting along with Carl Holsøe and Peder Ilsted. This somber painting chosen for the best waiting paintings reveals an introspective effect of light that is catalyzed by the emptiness of the tall room with bare floors and ceiling-high windows, as the faceless subject gazes into nothingness.

9. Waiting for a Loved One by Charles Joseph Grips

Charles Joseph Grips, Waiting for a Loved One, ca. 1894. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Charles Joseph Grips (1825–1920) was a Dutch painter, draftsman, and lithographer who spent a significant part of his life in Belgium. He painted and lithographed interiors in a style that was reminiscent of 17th-century Dutch genre works. In his compositions, the eyes of the viewer are drawn more towards the lavish adornments and ornate interiors than the sitter, who is undoubtedly not the focus of his attention.

10. Waiting by Federico Zandomeneghi

Federico Zandomeneghi, Waiting, Italy. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Federico Zandomeneghi (1841 – 1917) was an Italian artist from Venice. Though he was the son and grandson of neoclassic sculptors, he himself preferred painting to sculpture and made a name for himself as a prominent Impressionist. Similar to the other works in this list, the woman gazes longingly in the distance epitomizing an overwhelming sense of melancholy.

As we wait, both patiently and otherwise – let us honor healthcare providers and essential service workers all over the world as they stand on the frontlines in the ongoing battle against the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

If you enjoyed this list of the best waiting paintings, you might like:

Art, architecture, history, and dachshund enthusiast from New Delhi, based in Los Angeles.


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