Artist: De Morgan, Evelyn
Object Number: P_EDM_0006
Date: 1884 - 1885
Category: Highlights, Oil on panel, Paintings, and Paintings Highlights
Material: Oil on panel
Dimensions: Framed: H 1286 x W 674 x D 84 mm
Inscriptions: Signature, 1885, ‘EP 1884-5’

In Greek mythology dryads are mythological tree nymphs and protectors of the oak tree. Evelyn appears to have depicted a hamadryade, which is a type of nymph who is bonded to the tree itself. In this painting we can see the little nymph emerging from the tree, with her foot still hidden inside the tree’s stout trunk. Legend says that if the tree dies, the dryad will also die and for this reason the Gods punish any mortals who harm trees. Purple irises are at the dryad’s feet symbolise the minor Greek goddess Iris. Iris is the messenger of the gods, particularly Zeus and Hera. She is also the personification of the rainbow and, as goddess of sea and sky, provides clouds with water to rain upon the world to nourish plants and trees.The model for The Dryad was Jane Hales, who was first employed by Evelyn’s family as a nursery maid for her younger sister, Wilhelmina (later Mrs Stirling). When no longer needed as a nursery maid, Evelyn took her on as maid and model.