10 Jan

Evidently Herbert Draper (1863-1920) was an artist dedicated to solving one of the age-old problems of mankind, i.e. the impossibility of a man getting his end away with a sexy mermaid when she’s a fish from the waist down. Herbert– the dirty perv– provided an ingenious answer: when they emerge from the water their tails turn into legs. Brilliant.


Herbert Draper, ‘Ulysses and the Sirens’, 1909. Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull.

As the caption says, technically these are sirens rather than mermaids. The picture shows a story from The Odyssey, in which Ulysses has himself tied to the mast of his ship so he can hear the fatal call of the sirens without being lured into wrecking his ship, as was their desire. The crew had their ears stopped with wax. Until their mythology got completely jumbled up with mermaid stories in the middle ages, sirens were originally depicted as vulture-like, with the heads of women, and talons. One of the old school Greek sirens seen here seems to be plunging to her death in the water, either in suicidal failure or because the sirens were fated only to live until somebody evaded their song. In any case it proves that she doesn’t normally spend her time there.


Red-figured stamnos by an unknown artist from Attica, circa 480-470BC. British Museum.

Belatedly it was realised that clawed vulture-women didn’t make such good wanking material, and so the dual purpose amphibious Draper mermaid-siren was born.


One Response to “PROBLEM SOLVED”

  1. Alistair 11/02/2014 at 6:50 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

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