The artist received his surname from his native city of Kronach in Germany, where his father also worked as a painter. In 1505 Cranach moved to the court of the Elector Frederick the Wise in Saxony. There he established a large workshop with his sons as assistants.
The reclining female nude composition was based on an ancient text describing a spring or fountain guarded by a statue of a nymph. It was a motif repeated several times in Cranach's workshop.
The Latin inscription on the fountain represents the lasciviously smiling nymph's words as she looks out at us through half-closed eyes: 'I, the nymph of the sacred fountain, am resting; do not disturb me.'
Such seductive nudes are characteristic of Cranach's mature style.