The Waterbaby: Herbert James Draper (1863-1920)
When I did my Mermaids post a couple of weeks ago, I found I had a whole bunch of pictures left over, of sea-nymphs without any fishy characteristics. Although frequently (mis)titled "Sirens" or "Naiads" (because artists didn't bother doing their blasted research first) they are technically Nereids - sea-spirits in the form of beautiful shapely maidens. I suspect the shapely maiden bit was probably the important point as far as the purchasers were concerned. Anyway, here they are for your delectation. Some more Drapers to start with:
The Sea Maiden
Looks like the start of a story to me...
The Siren: Sir Edward Poynter (1836-1919)
Nice lyre. But repeat after me, Sir Edward: sirens are part-bird.
Though I much prefer his attempt at mythological portraiture to this sort of thing:
Sea Nymphs: Albert Laurens (1870-1934)
This above is an example of erotic painting where the artist demonstrates no respect for, or interest in, the putative mythology at all, and I don't actually like it much. There's nothing eerie or otherworldly about these women. It's the equivilent of photoshopping a nude picture onto a fake background. There's nothing wrong with nudey pictures, but that isn't mythological art.
The Naiads: Gioacchino Pagliei (1852-1896)
Much better. Even if naiads are actually nymphs of wells, springs and fresh water ... and shouldn't be playing with sea-gulls. Hey-ho.
Perseus and the Sea Nymphs: Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)
Burne-Jones' sea-nymphs are uncharacteristically modest. But I like the fact they stand around in a puddle.
Kiss of the Siren: Gustav Wertheimer (1847-1904)
Huzzah - back to scary nudes!
The Fisherman and the Siren: Knut Ekwall (1843-1912)
Naiads of the Sea: Gustave Dore (1832-1883)
And finally we're back to Edward Poynter for a picture that epitomises dirty-yet-ultra-respectable Victorian mythological art:
Cave of the Storm Nymphs
This is the picture with everything: overtly erotic nudes, mythological depth, beautifully rendered scenery, and a dramatic narrative. Love that shipwreck!