This is an oil painting in the Pre-Raphaelite style, created in 1903 by John William Waterhouse. The painting is called "Northwind" in honor of the Greek god of the north wind, and it depicts a young girl, blown by the wind.
It was put up for sale in the mid-1990s after it was lost for 90 years, which caused a real sensation in the art community. The painting hit a record price for Waterhouse at that time, reaching a price of £ 848,500 or $ 1,293,962.
Born in Italy and raised in Britain, Waterhouse combined the Victorian tale with the romantic fantasies of the Pre-Raphaelites in his work, drawing inspiration from Greek myths, Shakespearean, Arthurian legends, Homer, Tennyson and Keats. A member of the Royal Academy, Waterhouse often painted dramatic scenes, emphasizing strong or tragic women.
A girl with a languid look stands on the background of crooked oil strokes, surrendering to the mystical winds of artistic genius. Waterhouse went beyond Greek mythology. The theme of the painting is feminine, bewitching, mystical, surrounded by intricately detailed natural beauty in the classical style of the Pre-Raphaelites.
Boreas, the chief of the Greek gods of the wind, is illustrated in Waterhouse's painting using a cool palette, wide brush movements and subtle use of light and shadow. Just as the Greek god swallowed the young Athenian princess Orefia in a cloud, sweeping brush strokes, gray and cold as the wind, envelop the young maiden Borei.
Using a muted, cool palette, clearly inspired by the blue and gray of the sky, wind and rain, contrasts sharply with the woman's face and clean pale hand. First, an almost imperceptible, unpretentious yellow flower behind her ear is absorbed by the dark emptiness of her hair and is overshadowed by the lines of her scarf.
The girl’s finger lines continue the circular movements of her winding scarf, and in the center of this maelstrom is resigned beauty and classical simplicity. A focal image is a circle created around the almost perfect face of a girl. She is embraced by the inevitability of wind, winter, and possibly a mythological god from a forgotten era.
The heroine almost completely occupies the composition, almost leaving no room for the background. But in the background you can distinguish a small pond and several thin trees that the wind pumps. It seems as if she wants to succumb to the impulse and take off after the wind to distant lands where a person’s foot has not yet set foot and which can only be reached with a hurricane.