The Lorelei

During an 1886-89 stay in Paris, this Boston painter experimented with working in oils outdoors. He gradually abandoned the dark-toned palette of the Barbizon masters for the brighter colors of the French Impressionists. Hassam named this study of a nude model, painted as if posed on a cliff, after the siren in the German poet Heinrich Heine's "Die Lorelei" (1827). In the poem, the Lorelei, a water spirit dwelling in the treacherous rocks along the Rhine River, lures ships to their destruction with her tantalizing singing: Night falls as I linger, dreaming, And calmly flows the Rhine; The Peaks of the mountains gleaming In the golden sunset shine. A wondrous lovely maiden Sits high in glory there; Her robe with gems is laden, And she combs out her golden hair.

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