The Metamorphosis of Hermaphrodite and Salmacis

Resource added
 Hermaphroditus, situated within a pool of water, attracts the attention of a water-nymph, Salmacis, who falls in love with him upon sight. As depicted in the image, Hermaphroditus is portrayed with ginger hair, along with his female counterpart, Salmacis. The artwork captures an old style of painting that conveys the simplicity of the environment, displaying rocks coated with different amplitudes of gray and shades of green, resembling a tree. Moreover, the piece of artwork shows the water-nymph Salmacis passionately holding on to Hermaphrodite with the one wish to be unified with him until the end of time. Finally, spotlighting the consequence of one wish, on the left side of the painting, it exhibits the fused Hermaphrodite and Salmacis, creating an entity possessing both male and female qualities. The two heads situated on one torso symbolize the complete fusion of both bodies.

Full description

The story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus is a chapter in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The nymph Salmacis fell in love with Hermaphroditus, Hermes and Aphrodite's son. Hermaphroditus rejected her, but Salmacis outwitted him in the pool of water depicted in the piece of artwork. Salmacis prayed to the gods that she would be united with him until the end of time when Hermaphroditus spurned her once more. With the wish granted realism, Hermaphrodite and the water-nymph Salmacis fuse into an entity that possesses the combination of male and female features.

This piece was created between 1517 - 1520.

Download image “The Metamorphosis of Hermaphrodite and Salmacis”
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  • created on
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    271 KB
  • copyright status
    Public Domain
  • creator
    Jan Gossaert (Painter), 1478 - 1532
  • credit
    Jan Gossaert
  • restrictions
    This work is in the public domain in the U.S.
  • rights
    The artwork establishment originates in (Jan Gossaert, Circa). It is public domain.
  • rights territory
    Public domain in the country of origin and other countries where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or fewer.