The Sirens

Accession Number

The Sirens

Bernard Leach

Artist Nationality
British (modern)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
aquatint and etching on paper

5 5/8 in x 6 11/16 in (14.3 cm x 17 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund

Subject matter
Though the artist is most well known for his pottery, this work represents his study of etching. When this print was produced, Leach and his wife had traveled to Japan so that the artist could bring the medium of etching to Japanese artists. As the title suggests, the scene depicts men on a boat being tempted by the "sirens," likely prostitutes, who pose nude outside the walls of the brothel. Here Leach took the Homeric tale and mapped it onto the scenes of daily life he encounters in Japan.

Leach had traveled frequently as a child, being born in Hong Kong and living in Kyoto and Singapore before being moved back to England for school. It was during his time back in Japan, at the moment when he produced this print, that he discovered raku pottery, which he studied and made a name for him back in the UK. 

Physical Description
The print depicts a two-story structure on the right and receeding back, which has a lower wall to the left. There are figures in a long row boat in the foreground and a series of standing and laying nude women on the stairs in front of the building. Other figures can be seen on the balcony of the building. The print is signed (l.r.) "Bernard Leach" and located and dated (l.l.) "Japan '10" in pencil. 

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
aquatints (prints)
modern and contemporary art
nudes (representations)
sirens (imaginary beings)

3 Related Resources

Greek Cultural Influence
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
(Part of 10 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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