Friday, 4 February 2011

Naughty Nereids

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...

Flying Fish

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!


Craig Sorensen said...

I've always loved leftovers, Janine, and these are no exception.


"Cave of the Storm Nymphs" has me ready to get dashed out on a rock. Love "Flying Fish" too.

Great, inspiring stuff.

Janine Ashbless said...

Thanks Craig!

These big posts take hours to prepare, but it's so nice to share the images that inspire me!

Scarlett Knight said...

What beautiful pieces of art! Thanks for sharing--definitely inspiring :)

Chris said...

You're not wrong about the shipwreck. I need to go lie down in a darkened room now.

Jo said...

Whirlpool red head!

Fulani said...

I didn't know 'Cave of the Storm Nymphs' - wonderful pic, very dense narrative in there... and an interesting article. Thanks for the post!

Janine Ashbless said...

Storm nymph win!

Erobintica said...

"These big posts take hours to prepare..."

Janine, I love how you spend your time! Your comments on these are always fun too. And yeah, "Cave of the Storm Nymphs" was pretty damn evocative. ;-)

I always feel like I'm getting some culture when I look at these posts. You should teach art history!

Janine Ashbless said...

Heh. "And today, class, we will be looking at hot mythological babes." :-)
Do you think that'll go down well with the local education authority?

Thanks for all the kind comments, folks!

Anonymous said...

Some nice paintings I hadn't seen before. The Cave of the Storm Nymphs is owned by Andrew LLoyd-Webber!