In dark turbulent waters under a stormy sky four nude sea nymphs support the body of a long-haired man between them on a white shroud. The face of a man with kelp in his hair appears between two of the nymphs. On the right a bearded man with a trident in his right hand rides in a chariot fashioned from a seashell and pulled by two fished-tailed horses or hippocampi. Just visible in the distance behind the back of the rightmost nymph, a lofty tower rises above the waves.
This painting depicts the drowning of Leander, a young man who was the lover of a priestess of Aphrodite named Hero. Every night Leander would swim across the Hellespont, the strait connecting the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea, to the tower where Hero lived so as to pass the hours with his beloved. A winter storm, evoked in the painting by the turbulent waters and stormy sky, caught Leander during one of his nightly crossings, and he drowned. Four sea nymphs, accompanied by a merman and Poseidon in his sea chariot, have risen from the dark waves to support Leander's body in a white shroud. Their mourning and anguish over the dead lover foreshadows the impending sorrow and suicide of Hero, who still waits on her tower visible in the distance.