Lair of the Sea Serpent

Elihu Vedder American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 766

In 1864 Vedder completed a large painting of a huge mythical creature burrowing into a hillock on a sandy shore. Now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, that painting was based on a sketch that Vedder reworked thirty-five years later to create this canvas. The sea serpent’s immense size, thick, coiled body, and incongruous placement in a tranquil setting suggest the influence on Vedder of nightmarish demons such as those portrayed by Gustave Doré and Francisco de Goya, especially in the latter’s aquatints published as Los Caprichos in 1799.

Lair of the Sea Serpent, Elihu Vedder (American, New York 1836–1923 Rome), Oil on canvas, American

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