The story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus comes from the Metamorphoses of Ovidius. The nymph Salmacis fell in love with Hermaphroditus the son of Hermes and Aphrodite. Hermaphroditus rejected her but Salmacis tore him into the water. Still he did not want to know anything about her, and then Salmacis begged the gods to join her with him forever. Both merged into a hermaphrodite, an ambivalent creature with both male and female characteristics. François Joseph Navez painted them just before the metamorphosis. The reserved gesture of Hermaphroditus and the passionate embrace of the enamored nymph form an ingenious and elegant ballet in an almost abstracted line-play. Mythological scenes were rather an exception in the work of Navez. His stay in Rome inspired him throughout his career rather to religious subjects and picturesque Italian scenes. He also achieved great success with his classic portraits.