'The Kelpie' 1913
Herbert James Draper (1864 - 1920)
Oil on canvas
135 x 193cm
Accession Number LL3619
Kelpies were supposed to haunt rivers and lakes. They would delight in causing the drowning of travellers and sailors. They were a popular theme for artists around the beginning of the 20th century. Many artists, however, seemed unaware of their sinister aspects and portrayed them more as harmless nymphs.
Draper's Kelpie, although not overtly malevolent, seems more than a mere nymph. She still retains something of an air of menace as she surveys her river. The painting received a mixed reception when first exhibited. Many critics felt the figure too modern for such a mythical subject.