Burne-Jones, The Depths of the Sea

Written by DEKYA

Strange Seaways – A smiling mermaid hauls the dead body of a naked young man to the bottom of the sea in this painting by British artist Edward Burne-Jones. With its warped forms, wavering lights and monochrome dimness, the painting is evocative of the strange seaways of underwater life. In fact, Burne-Jones was so determined to get these underwater effects right that he borrowed a large glass tank from another artist, Henry Holiday, filled it with tinted water, and used it as a prop to paint from in his studio. But this painting is more than just an eerie scene of mermaid mythology or a demonstration of the artist’s technical skill; it can also be seen as a psychological exploration of fear, desire, and fatal attraction.