The present sheet shows three studies for the legs of the male figure in The Depths of the Sea (Private Collection). Perhaps inspired by Ovid's story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, the picture shows a mermaid dragging a handsome young man deep under the water, a triumphant expression on her face. This was the only work Burne-Jones ever showed at the Royal Academy, in 1886, the year after his election as an Associate Academician. A watercolour version of the composition is in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard (fig. 1).
We are grateful to John Christian for his help in preparing this catalogue entry in January 2016.