Abigail McCoy

“This year’s water-related theme, “Mysterious Fathoms,” gave me the perfect opportunity to illustrate the pivotal moment in the myth of the Melusine. She is the magical and powerful mermaid ancestress of many European royal families, including the House of the Plantagents in England. In the fairy tale, a king finds her in the woods near her river, is struck by her beauty, and asks her to marry him. She agrees on the one condition that he does not look upon her while she is bathing. He promises and the they are married. Later, when the king becomes convinced that his wife is having an affair, he spies on her in the bath and discovers that she has a tail. Horrified, he confronts her. In her rage at his betrayal, the Melusine sprouts dragon wings and flies away.”

“I loved having the opportunity to play with the visual juxtaposition of a wild, magical mermaid bathing amidst Gothic stonework. This reflects the fairytale’s inherent narrative contrast and inversion of character roles. Although Melusine is often portrayed as the monstrous creature my image depicts Melusine in a quiet moment, combing her hair, ignorant of her husband’s shock and ultimate betrayal. For the king, her physical appearance alone justifies breaking his promise to her, which makes him the true monster.”

About the Artist




Polychromes over gouache


10” x 12”