This beautiful painting by Lord Leighton depicts the sea-nymph Psamathe. And as with much of Leighton's later work, the subject is taken from Classical mythology.
Psamathe was one of the fifty daughters of the sea god Nereus. These lovely sea goddesses were known collectively as the Nereids, and several Nereids - including Psamathe - played roles in myth. Psamathe's main contribution to mythology is found in the brief story that involves her relationship with Aeacus. This affair resulted in the birth of a son named Phocus.
In this painting, the emphasis is on the figure of Psamathe. The sea-nymph is posed so that one can only glimpse her back. And although we cannot see her face, we can sense that she is gazing out into the placid blue water. Psamathe's connection to the water is reinforced by the froth of white draperies upon which she reclines, for the appearance of the cloth echoes the white waves of the sea.
The Art of Lord Leighton
In this beautiful book, author Christopher Newall examines the life and works of eminent Victorian artist Frederic Leighton. The chapters deal with Leighton's evolution as a painter, from his early phase as "The Outsider", to success as "The President of the Royal Academy". And there are plenty of gorgeous color images to complement the text.