Undine Rising from the Waters

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Chauncey Bradley Ives
Undine Rising from the Waters, modeled ca. 1880-1882

An undine is a legendary figure, a mortal sea sprite that lacks a soul. She must assume human form and trick a man into marriage in order to gain a soul, and with it, immortality. Once wed, she can leave the sea, but only as long as her husband remains true. If her deception is discovered and her mate deserts her, the undine must destroy him.

Ives chose the moment that this undine rises out of the water, and reaches sensuously heavenward to receive her soul. In his sculpture Ives achieves remarkable naturalism in the depiction of wet clinging drapery plastered against Undine’s curvaceous form.