60 1/2 × 19 × 15 1/2 in. (153.7 × 48.3 × 39.4 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Alice A. Allen, in memory of her father, Simon Sterne
According to medieval lore, undines were Mediterranean sea spirits who lived as soulless mortals. In the nineteenth century, this story gained prominence through Baron Heinrich Karl de la Motte Fouqué’s popular novel Undine, in which a water spirit gains a human form and soul by marrying the mortal knight she loves. When her husband proves unfaithful, the laws of the water spirits force her to kill him. Chauncey Bradley Ives depicts the moment when the mournful Undine, cloaked in a white veil, rises like a fountain to claim her husband’s life. Exquisitely rendered, the diaphanous wet drapery is a masterful example of illusionistic carving.