The Great Sirens

Artist: Paul Delvaux (Belgian, 1897–1994)

Date: 1947

Medium: Oil on Masonite

Dimensions: 79 1/2 x 122 in. (201.9 x 309.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Julian J. Aberbach, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.356

Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Measuring over six by nine feet, The Great Sirens is one of Delvaux’s largest paintings. The work features partially nude female figures in a moonlit architectural landscape, a mysterious setting that reveals the painter’s admiration of the work of Giorgio de Chirico. Unabashedly unselfconscious in their states of undress, the women are formidable, even threatening, in their quiet seduction. In the distance, a group of beached mermaids mesmerizes a lone man in a bowler hat. Ambiguous in meaning, the painting evokes enduring themes of love and erotic fantasy.