I wrote a post a few months ago on the great French landscape painter, Claude Lorraine. This is a nice work of his: Landscape with Acis and Galatea.
The story is found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Galatea, a Nereid, fell in love with a young man, Acis. The Cyclops Polyphemous, however, was already in love with Galatea and in a fit of jealousy he killed Acis with a giant boulder. Galatea in her sorrow then transformed the blood of Acis into the river Acis. The whole scene takes place on Sicily.
Like all Claude paintings, this piece is infused with a certain lazy, dream like atmosphere. Although not tropical, it conveys the often other-wordliness of a tropical landscape. It is a land of pleasure, fantasy and mythology. Anyone who has sat beneath the warm canopy of a palm tree sipping a pina colada, surrounded by beautiful, bikini clad nymphs frolicking in the turquoise surf of a white sand beach, knows what I am talking about.
Even Dostoevsky felt the beauty of this painting. Apparently it inspired his description of the Golden Age in his “Raw Youth” and “The Devils”.
The world of the sea nymphs, the Nereids, although quite dangerous, is indeed quite wonderful.