The Nymph of the Fountain

Lucas The Elder Cranach, 1534

WAG 1223

About this object

The picture is based on a 15th-century text which describes a Roman fountain guarded by a statue of a nymph. Cranach, however, has changed the statue into a sensual creature, much more true to life than the idealised nudes of ancient Roman sculpture. The Latin inscription on the fountain reads: “I, the nymph of the sacred fountain, am resting, do not disturb my sleep”. In fact the nymph is not asleep, but looks out through half open eyes, and seems to smile invitingly.

Cranach was among the most important German painters of the early 16th century. He is noted in particular for his portraits and for his elongated, cheekily seductive female nudes. The Nymph was a popular image, as Cranach and his workshop, painted at least 17 versions of it. The symbol of a dragon with raised wings, which is painted on the fountain under the date, was the insignia of the Cranach workshop.

Object specifics

  • Other title(s)
    The Artist's Wife. A naked reclining figure; The Fountain Nymph; A Venus
  • Artist(s)
    Lucas Cranach (the Elder) (German, born:1472-10-04, died:1553-10-16)
  • Date
    1534
  • Materials
    Oil paint; Hardwood (beech)
  • Measurements
    panel 51.1 cm x 77.9 cm
  • Physical description
    Female nude lying on a grassy mound and leaning against green-striped cushion on the left. There are two birds and a bow and quiver full of arrows at her feet to the right. A stone fountai, with cherubs spouting water, is behind her, with a river landscape and town visible in background to right.
  • Related people
    Lucas Cranach (the Elder) (Artist/maker); Liverpool Royal Institution (Previous owner); Thomas Wilkinson (Junior) (Previous owner); Thomas Winstanley (Previous owner)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 1223
  • Credit line
    Presented to the Walker Art Gallery by the Liverpool Royal Institution in 1948
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Room 01, 1.2
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Liverpool Royal Institution

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Possibly deposited 1842.10.12 by Winstanley. Acquired before 1851.
    Owned until: 1948
    Disposal method: Presented to the Walker Art Gallery
  • Thomas Winstanley

    Owned from: 1811
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1815-11-16
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Thomas Wilkinson (Junior)

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1811-06-29
    Disposal method: Sold at Winstanley & Son, 34 Russell Square (West side) London, lot 53

Inscriptions

Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: FONTIS NYMPHA SACRI SOMNUM NE RUMPE QUIESCO / 1534 / and winged dragon
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: On the fountain base
  • Inscription text: with winged dragon / 1534
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location:
  • Inscription text: Manchester Art Treasures Roscoe Cole - 48; Restricted by Kidson 1908; Art Treasures 1857 no 49
    Inscription method: Label
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Back of original oak panel
  • Inscription text: Sanderson [?] 25, Leeds 1868 no 14
    Inscription method: Label
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Underneath slats in MS
Object view = Fine Art
Page load time: 274 ms