Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hylas and the Nymphs

Admittedly, I have a hard time placing when I first saw the painting by renowned painter John William Waterhouse (1849-1917). It's one of those art history ironies that Waterhouse is probably one of the most reproduced of the Pre-Raphealites in calendars and book covers, though his work came several decades after the Pre-Rahealite movement had gone out of style.  In any event, if I was to guess, it was in a childhood book on myths and legends that I first came across this lovely work...and to be honest it was a toss up between sketching this one and Waterhouse's Lady of Shallott.

The painting depicts the seduction of Hylas by the nymphs of the spring of Pegae.  Hylas had been chosen by Heracles to join Jason aboard the Argos in pursuit of the Golden Fleece.  When Hylas vanished without a trace, Heracles and the cyclops Polyphemus searched the island for him in vain for days leaving the remaining Argonauts to set sail without them. The abduction of Hylas has been a popular motif in art since classical times.

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