collection
oilpainting: 194 cm x 148 cm
1829-A

The story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus is a chapter in Ovids Metamorphoses. The nymph Salmacis fell in love with Hermaphroditus, Hermes and Aphrodites son. Hermaphroditus rejected her but Salmacis managed to outwit him in the water. Yet again Hermaphroditus rejected her, so Salmacis prayed to the gods that she would be united with him until the end of time. They fused into a hermaphroditic creature, with male and female characteristics. François-Joseph Navez depicts the nymph and the object of her affection just before the metamorphosis. Hermaphrodituss reticent gesture and the passionate embrace by the infatuated nymph constitute an ingenious and elegant ballet in an almost abstract play of lines. Mythological scenes were rather the exception in Navezs work. His stay in Rome inspired him to paint religious subjects and picturesque Italian scenes during the rest of his career. His Classic portraits were also quite successful.