Waterhouse studied at the Royal Academy Schools in the 1870s; the early works he produced were of a classical style and were heavily influenced by artists such as Leighton and Alma-Tadema. He made several trips to Italy where he found inspiration for his paintings and began to produce large canvases using classical compositions and the Pre-Raphaelite concepts of beautiful women who were ultimately tragic or powerful.
He was active several decades after the break-up of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which had seen its heyday in the mid-nineteenth century, leading him to be known as "the modern Pre-Raphaelite". Borrowing stylistic influences not only from the earlier Pre-Raphaelites but also from his contemporaries, the Impressionists, his artworks were known for their depictions of women from both ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.
A mermaid was a fabled marine creature with the head and upper body of a human being and the tail of a fish. Similar divine or semi-divine beings appear in ancient mythologies. In European folklore, mermaids and mermen were natural beings who, like fairies, had magical and prophetic powers, they loved music and often sang. Though very long-lived, they were mortal and had no souls. This painting was Waterhouse's diploma work for the Royal Academy.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-402: 6" x 6" (150mm x 150mm)