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John William Waterhouse (6 April 1849  10 February 1917)  Lamia  Oil on canvas, 1905  57 x 36 in  Private collection
Goback 79 / 86 Forward

Title: Lamia
Description:
 
John William Waterhouse (6 April 1849 — 10 February 1917)
Lamia
Oil on canvas, 1905
57 x 36 in
Private collection

In classical mythology, Lamia was a female daemon who devoured children. According to late myths she was a queen of Libya who was beloved by Zeus. When Hera robbed her of her children this union, Lamia killed every child she could get into her power. She was also known as a fiend who, in the form of a beautiful woman, seduced young men in order to devour them. 

It was this latter incarnation of Lamia as a beautiful woman that inspired John Keats to write his poem Lamia, published in 1820. Waterhouse bases his portrayal of Lamia upon Keats' poem:

 
She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr'd; 
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolv'd, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries--
So rainbow-sided, touch'd with miseries,
She seem'd, at once, some penanced lady elf,
Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self.



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Goback 79 / 86 Forward
John William Waterhouse (6 April 1849  10 February 1917)  Gather Ye Rosebuds (Study)  Oil on canvas, circa 1908  79 x 57 cm  Private collectionJohn William Waterhouse (6 April 1849  10 February 1917)  Lamia  Oil on canvas, 1905  57 x 36 in  Private collectionJohn William Waterhouse (6 April 1849  10 February 1917)  Lamia  Oil on canvas, 1909  36 x 22.5 in  Private collection
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