Monday, July 25, 2016

25 Classic Works of Art, Herbert James Draper's Marine Paintings of Mermaids - 4

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Calypso's Isle, c. 1897
Oil on canvas
Manchester Art Gallery

Calypso was a nymph in Greek mythology, who lived on the island of Ogygia; there she detained Odysseus for several years. She is generally said to be the daughter of Atlas the Titan.

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Calypso's Isle, c. 1897
Study

Calypso is remembered most for her role in Homer's Odyssey, in which she keeps the fabled Greek hero Odysseus on her island to make him her immortal husband. According to Homer, Calypso kept Odysseus prisoner at Ogygia for seven years. Calypso enchants Odysseus with her singing as she moves to and fro, weaving on her loom with a golden shuttle. More

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
The Foam Sprite, c. 1895
Oil on canvas

Herbert James Draper (1863 – 1920) was an English Classicist painter whose career began in the Victorian era and extended through the first two decades of the 20th century. Born in London, the son of a jeweller, he was educated at Bruce Castle School in Tottenham and then went on to study art at the Royal Academy. 

Herbert James Draper, (British 1864-1920)
Study for 'The Foam Sprite'
27 x 20 cm. (10 1/2 x 8 in.)

He undertook several educational trips to Rome and Paris between 1888 and 1892, having won the Royal Academy Gold Medal and Travelling Studentship in 1889. In the 1890s, he worked as an illustrator, eventually settling in London. He died of arteriosclerosis at the age of 56, in his home on Abbey Road. More

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Ulysses and the Sirens, circa 1909
Oil on canvas
177 × 213.5 cm (69.7 × 84.1 in)
Ferens Art Gallery,  Kingston upon Hull

The museum's website explains: The depiction of the sirens is an interesting one as Homer's account was rather vague and artists usually drew them as bird like figures with female heads. Draper, however, depicts them as mermaids and young women. We see a boat full of muscly sailors apparently terrified by three nude girls. As they climb aboard, an act of assertive sexuality, the sirens change from mermaids into women.

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Ulysses and the Sirens, circa 1909
Study of Janet Fletcher


The theme of the nymph and the temptress became something of an obsession in Draper's work. This work was done later in Draper’s career, when he was a married man, and contrasts dramatically with an earlier work by him The Sea Maiden which shows the sailors as the aggressors.

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Ulysses and the Sirens, circa 1909
Study for rower

The picture contains many contrasts; the sea and the air, the masculine and the feminine, the dark and the light, hard and soft. These contrasts are enhanced by the colours used by Draper with the sailors being dark and weather beaten, the sirens are pale and untouched by the sun like an English Edwardian lady. More

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
The Water Nymph, The water nixie,  Date 1909
Oil on Canvas
61 x 114.5 cm. (24 x 45.1 in.)

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
The Water Nymph, The water nixie,  Date 1909
Detail

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Prospero Summoning Nymphs and Deities, c.1903
Painting for the ceiling of the Draper's Hall in London.

Prospero is the rightful Duke of Milan, whose usurping brother, Antonio, had put him (with his then three-year old daughter, Miranda) to sea on "a rotten carcass of a [boat" to die, 12 years before the play begins. Prospero and Miranda survived and found exile on a small island. He has learned sorcery from books, and uses it while on the island to protect Miranda and control the other characters. More

Herbert James Draper (British, 1864–1920)
Juno and Ceres in Prospero summoning nymphs and deities
For the ceiling at Draper's Hall (study) , 1903
Chalk on paper
49.5 x 60 cm. (19.5 x 23.6 in.)

Herbert James Draper, 1864-1920
Study of a Water Nymph, c. 1902
Study for Prospero Summoning Nymphs and Deities
Internet Archive and the University of Toronto

Herbert James Draper, 1863-1920
STUDY OF FLORRIE BIRD FOR A WATER NYMPH IN PROSPERO SUMMONING NYMPHS AND DEITIES
black and white chalk on grey paper
46 by 61 cm. ; 18 by 24 in.

The Studio

Mr. Draper at Work in his studio at St. Ives. This photograph from The Studio shows the artist at work on Prospero Summoning Nymphs and Deities.

Herbert James Draper (British 1864-1920)
By summer seas 
Oil on canvas
127 x 76 cm. (50 x 30 in.)

‘Summer Seas’ is a typical and dramatic example of the artist’s work, which combined Draper’s technical skill as a draughtsman and colourist, with a sensual notion of mythology. Although the two female nudes appear to be generic bathers rather than his usual nymphs and sirens or the classical Andromeda or Aphrodite, the figures echo ancient precedents from the classicism of the Greeks and Romans. They resemble the type of elegant nudes painted by Sir Edward Poynter in the early Twentieth Century, such as the famous ‘Cave of the Storm Nymphs’ (Collection of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber) of 1905 which Draper had greatly admired. 

The main theme running through Draper’s work is the connection between women and water and almost all of his most successful paintings depict naked women beside the sea or rivers. More

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
The Mountain Mists or Clyties of the Mist, c. 1912
Oil on canvas
220.00cm high, 122.00cm wide

Clyties of the Mist is one of the most powerful, sensuous and entrancing of all images by the painters that we now refer to as The Last Romantics. Like John William Waterhouse, Herbert William Draper breathed new air into Pre-Raphaelitism into the twentieth century, compounding in all his work the aestheticism of Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones with the classicism of Frederic Lord Leighton. 

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
The Mountain Mists or Clyties of the Mist, c. 1912
Oil Study

The painting depicts three `Clyties' spiraling airily upwards with the mists. They are as wistfully beautiful as Waterhouse's nymphs although unlike his femme fatales luring men to their doom, Draper's nymphs are themselves the nature's free spirits. More

According to Greek myth, the water-nymph Clyties fell in love with the Sun God Apollo. In a tragic attempt to meet him in the sky, she was transformed into a sunflower. Till this day, the flower turns its head towards the sun following Apollo through his daily course. 

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Oil study for Clyties of the Mist, c. 1912
Study

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Oil study for Clyties of the Mist, c. 1912
Study

Clytia was a water nymph, daughter of Oceanus and Tethys in Greek mythology, who was in loved Helios.

Helios, having loved her, abandoned her for Leucothea and left her deserted. She was so angered by his treatment that she told Leucothea's father, Orchamus, about the affair. Since Helios had defiled Leucothea, Orchamus had her put to death by burial alive in the sands. Clytie intended to win Helios back by taking away his new love, but her actions only hardened his heart against her. She stripped herself and sat naked, with neither food nor drink, for nine days on the rocks, staring at the sun, Helios, and mourning his departure. After nine days she was transformed into the turnsole, also known as heliotrope (which is known for growing on sunny, rocky hillsides), which turns its head always to look longingly at Helios' chariot of the sun. More



Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
The Sea Maiden, c. 1894
Oil on canvas
Height: 120 cm (47.24 in.), Width: 217.5 cm (85.63 in.)

The Sea Maiden (1894) was Draper first really successful painting and was an illustration of a passage from Swinburne's tragedy Chastelard (1865), about some sailors who net a sea-girl.

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
The Sea Maiden, c. 1894
Study

Draper wrote of his preparation for the painting: "I took the usual pains in gathering my studies, spending hours in a boat with a fishing net floating in the water over a couple of spars. I made my studies at sea off Devon and the Scillies (the latter the more useful) and I spent some time on a Devon trawler to see the nets hauled with the fish - a roughish sort of experience, as they go for 48 hours at a stretch. My barbaric or archaic boat I was, of course, unable to get, so I modelled it in wax and coloured it, and then studied it out of doors." More

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
The Sea Maiden, c. 1894
Study

HERBERT JAMES DRAPER (1864-1920)
Flying Fish (England, 1910)
Oil on Canvas
94.50cm high, 62.30cm wide

Flying Fish was Draper's only subject picture in the Academy of 1910. The Studio devoted a full page to a colour reproduction of a drawing for the painting in its article on the Royal Academy exhibition. 

HERBERT JAMES DRAPER (1864-1920)
Flying Fish (England, 1910)
Study

Yet, although the painting is simple, it epitomises Draper's artistic concerns. From the period of his early success with the Lament for Icarus he had frequently represented mythological or fantasy subjects with a marine setting. Draper's draughtsmanship, shown here to full advantage, is fluent and dynamic. His conception of the figure owes much to French examples and to the training he received in Paris at the Academie Julian. More

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
The Kelpie, c. 1913
Oil on canvas
135 x 193cm 
National Museums Liverpool

Kelpies were supposed to haunt rivers and lakes. They would delight in causing the drowning of travellers and sailors. They were a popular theme for artists around the beginning of the 20th century. Many artists, however, seemed unaware of their sinister aspects and portrayed them more as harmless nymphs.

Draper's Kelpie, although not overtly malevolent, seems more than a mere nymph. She still retains something of an air of menace as she surveys her river. The painting received a mixed reception when first exhibited. Many critics felt the figure too modern for such a mythical subject. More

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Spirit of the Fountain
Oil on canvas

In Greek mythology, the Naiads were a type of water nymph (female spirit) who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks and other bodies of fresh water.

They are distinct from river gods, who embodied rivers, and the very ancient spirits that inhabited the still waters of marshes, ponds and lagoon-lakes, such as pre-Mycenaean Lerna in the Argolis.

Naiads were associated with fresh water, as the Oceanids were with saltwater and the Nereids specifically with the Mediterranean, but because the Greeks thought of the world's waters as all one system, which percolated in from the sea in deep cavernous spaces within the earth, there was some overlap. Arethusa, the nymph of a spring, could make her way through subterranean flows from the Peloponnesus, to surface on the island of Sicily. More

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920) 
The Naiad's Pool
Oil on canvas, in feigned circle
68.6 x 68.6 cm. (27 x 27 in.)

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
Sea Melodies, c. 1904
Oil on canvas

Herbert James Draper
A Deep Sea Idyll
Oil on canvas
133.35 cm (52.5 in.), Width: 77.47 cm (30.5 in.)






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