Lynnette Shelley

Ambler, United States

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According to European folklore, Melusine is a feminine water spirit, with the body of serpent or fish from the waist down, much like a mermaid. Sometimes she is also portrayed with a dragon’s body. She is considered a siren type figure or a nixie.

According to Wikipedia

“The most famous literary version of Melusine tales, that of Jean d’Arras, compiled about 1382–1394 was worked into a collection of “spinning yarns” as told by ladies at their spinning. ….

It tells how Elynas, the King of Albany (an old name for Scotland) went hunting one day and came across a beautiful lady in the forest. She was Pressyne, mother of Melusine. He persuaded her to marry him but she agreed, only on the promise — for there is often a hard and fatal condition attached to any pairing of fay and mortal — that he must not enter her chamber when she birthed or bathed her children. She gave birth to triplets. When he violated this taboo, Pressyne left the kingdom, together with her three daughters, and traveled to the lost Isle of Avalon.

The three girls — Melusine, Melior, and Palatyne — grew up in Avalon. On their fifteenth birthday, Melusine, the eldest, asked why they had been taken to Avalon. Upon hearing of their father’s broken promise, Melusine sought revenge. She and her sisters captured Elynas and locked him, with his riches, in a mountain. Pressyne became enraged when she learned what the girls had done, and punished them for their disrespect to their father. Melusine was condemned to take the form of a serpent from the waist down every Saturday. In other stories, she takes on the form of a mermaid.

Raymond of Poitou came across Melusine in a forest in France, and proposed marriage. Just as her mother had done, she laid a condition, that he must never enter her chamber on a Saturday. He broke the promise and saw her in the form of a part-woman part-serpent. She forgave him. Only when, during a disagreement with her, he called her a “serpent” in front of his court, did she assume the form of a dragon, provide him with two magic rings and fly off, never to return.1

In “The Wandering Unicorn” by Manuel Mujica Láinez, Melusine tells her tale of several centuries of existence from her original curse to the time of the crusades.2"

The original image for this is 12 × 16″ and was created with oil pastels, colored pencils and metallic paints on blue watercolor paper.

In this portrait of her, I portrayed Melusine in a psychedelic/art nouveau type of style. I hope you enjoy….

Artwork Comments

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