Evidently Herbert Draper (1863-1920) was an artist dedicated to solving one of the age-old problems of mankind, i.e. the impossibility of a man getting his end away with a sexy mermaid when she’s a fish from the waist down. Herbert– the dirty perv– provided an ingenious answer: when they emerge from the water their tails turn into legs. Brilliant.

Herbert_James_Draper,_Ulysses_and_the_Sirens,_1909 Herbert Draper, ‘Ulysses and the Sirens’, 1909. Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull.

As the caption says, technically these are sirens rather than mermaids. The picture shows a story from The Odyssey, in which Ulysses has himself tied to the mast of his ship so he can hear the fatal call of the sirens without being lured into wrecking his ship, as was their desire. The crew had their ears stopped with wax. Until their mythology got completely jumbled up with mermaid stories in the middle ages, sirens were originally…

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