This is the image I wanted to show you in class on Wednesday, an 1896 painting by John William Waterhouse titled Hylas and the Nymphs. Properly speaking the feminine figures are naiads– spirits of fresh water– rather than Nereids, who belong to the sea.
While I was looking for this image I came across another, also painted by Waterhouse, titled A Naiad:
Claud Walsingham Popple is probably based on John Singer Sargent rather than James MacNeil Whistler, as I said in class. Sargent was a successful “society painter” who first gained attention with the “scandalous” work Portrait of Madame X.
A prolific artist, Sargent prospered to such a degree he was able to pick and choose his subjects. Elite figures of high society clamored for him to “do” them. Here is a sampling of such portraits taken from artstor.org– a very valuable image database that you should consult.