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THE NYMPH, Syrinx, nude to the waist wearing loose-fitting rose and white drapery flees from the lunging satyr, Pan, along the banks of the river Ladon. The landscape background recedes from right to left in a wedge shape to a
distant horizon. The river is lined with tall reeds and filled with waterplants, flowers, ducks, herons, snipes, kingfishers, and other waterfowl.
The subject is drawn from Ovid's Metamorphoses which recounts the tale told by Mercury of a chaste naiad who revered and even dressed like the virgin goddess, Diana, and who "Many a time /... foiled the chasing satyrs and those gods / Who haunt the shady copses and coverts / Of the lush countryside." Pan mistook her for Diana and chased her "To Ladon's peaceful, sandy stream and there / Her flight barred by the river, [she] begged her sisters, / The water nymphs, to change her; and when Pan / Thought he had captured her, he held instead / Only the tall marsh reeds, and while he sighed, / The soft wind stirring in the reeds sent forth / A thin and plaintive sound; and he, entranced / By this new music and its witching tones, / Cried 'You and I shall stay in unison!' / And waxed together reeds of different lengths / And made the pipes that keep his darling's name."