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The picture shows Leander's and Hero's bodies in embrace and lifeless on the shores of the sea. The artist used various elements to bring out the story behind the picture.
The artist, William Etty, has used color in a fascinating and exciting manner. He used dull colors to present to the viewer an aspect of grief and/or sadness. There is also a very dull shade of red color depicting an aspect of danger or something tragic.
On the left side of the picture there is seen a distant horizon with a dark cloud that seem to suggest storm or rain. The horizon descends and come to touch with the sea implying that the sea was a big one. The Hero's dark hair and drapery comes in touch with the dark shadows at the base of the tower on the right side of the painting.
The picture is divided in a very attractive way. The artist gave every detail of the story a part in the picture depending on its weight. The artist placed the two bodies (Leander and Hero) in the middle of the picture and they lie lifeless depicting the deaths of Leander and Hero. The way the bodies lie in embrace shows the love that existed between the two characters in the painting.
The next thing that catches the attention of the viewer is that the bodies are half dressed bringing the aspect that Leander and Hero were lovers. Leander's body is offshore where it was brought by the tides after he had drawn. Hero's body is partially on top on Leander's showing that she threw herself down from the tower on Leander. This fact is further emphasized by the fact that there are no stairs shown on the picture that lead down from the tower hence depicting that Hero must have jump after seeing Leander's lifeless body at shore.