Reclining nymph

Reclining nymph

Title

Reclining nymph

[Cat. Karlsruhe 1966, 94]

Painting on metal (copper, silver-plated?)

Medium

Painting on metal (copper, silver-plated?)

[Exhib. Cat. Bremen 2009, 34]
[Cat. Karlsruhe 1966, 94]

The figure lies under a tree clothed only in a transparent veil, which emphasizes her nakedness rather than concealing it. She has hung her bow and quiver on the tree. On the right a spring pours into a lake, which leads the eye deep into the pictorial space to an

The figure lies under a tree clothed only in a transparent veil, which emphasizes her nakedness rather than concealing it. She has hung her bow and quiver on the tree. On the right a spring pours into a lake, which leads the eye deep into the pictorial space to an expansive landscape beyond.

[Görres, cda 2012]

Attributions
Follower of Lucas Cranach the Younger
Copy after Lucas Cranach the Elder or the Younger

Attributions

Follower of Lucas Cranach the Younger

[Jacob-Friesen, Exhib. Cat. Bremen 2009, 34]

Copy after Lucas Cranach the Elder or the Younger

[Cat. Karlsruhe 1966, 94, 95]

Production dates
about 1575 - 1625 (?)
about 1600 - 1750

Production dates

about 1575 - 1625 (?)

"spätes 16. oder frühes 17. Jahrhundert (?)"
[Jacob-Friesen, Exhib. Cat. Bremen 2009, 34]

about 1600 - 1750

"vermutlich 17. Jahrhundert oder später" [Cat. Karlsruhe 1966, 94]

Dimensions
Dimensions of support: 17.8 x 23.5 cm

Dimensions

  • Dimensions of support: 17.8 x 23.5 cm

  • [Cat. Karlsruhe 1966, 94]

Signature / Dating
None
Inscriptions and Labels
- the text block in the top right corner has been overpainted

Inscriptions and Labels

Inscriptions, Badges:

  • - the text block in the top right corner has been overpainted
  • [Jacob-Friesen, Exhib. Cat. Bremen 2009, 34]
Owner
Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe
Repository
Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe
Location
Karlsruhe
CDA ID
DE_SKK_0895
FR (1978) Nr.
FR-none
Persistent Link
https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_SKK_0895/

Provenance

  • the origin is unknown, possibly from the collection of the Margrave of Baden
  • transferred from the collection of the Archduke in 1895
    [Cat. Karlsruhe 1966, 94]

Exhibitions

Bremen 2009, No. 34

Literature

Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure / Plate
Cat. Coburg 2018 92, fn. 20 under no. 15
AuthorKlaus Weschenfelder
TitleCranach in Coburg. Gemälde von Lucas Cranach d.Ä., Lucas Cranach d.J., der Werkstatt und des Umkreises in den Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg
Place of PublicationRegensburg
Year of Publication2018
Exhib. Cat. Bremen 2009 34 34
EditorRainer Stamm
TitleLucas Cranach der Schnellste
Place of PublicationBremen
Year of Publication2009
Cat. Karlsruhe 1966 94, 95
AuthorJan Lauts
TitleStaatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. Katalog Alter Meister bis 1800
Volume1, 2
Place of PublicationKarlsruhe
Year of Publication1966

Research History / Discussion

'Late, maybe even 17th century copy after a composition of which there are many versions in the same small format, varying only slightly in detail; some are attributed to Lucas Cranch the Younger by Friedländer-Rosenberg [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932, under No. 324] (FR403) (among others Kassel, Gemäldegalerie, No. 19; New York, Robert Lehmann Collection, formerly Chillingworth Collection; Besancon, Musées de la Ville; see: FR403A-C). They are based on a pictorial invention by Cranach the Elder, which appears to have first found expression in a painting from 1518 in the Leipzig Museum (Nr. 757; FR119). […]In the second half of the twenties the subject is readdressed in a drawing (formerly Dresden; [Rosenberg 1960, No. 40] and in a painting in the Thyssen Collection in Lugano (FR120) in a manner which is closer to the present version. The subject appears again with slight variations after 1537 (FR402; FR403; FR404).'

[Cat. Karlsruhe 1966, 94, 95]

Reclining Nymphe

Lucas Cranach the Elder, alongside Albrecht Dürer, was one of the pioneers of nude painting in Germany. In 1509 he painted a life-size figure of a standing and completely unclothed Venus with Cupid. About six years later there followed a reclining nude figure – the nymph reclining in natural surroundings. Cranach and his workshop assistants repeated both motifs – the Venus and the nymph – in different versions. [1] In the years after 1530 these can be defined as a serial production even if the versions are rarely identical. For the most part the pictorial elements were skillfully modified and combined in a new way. The Reclining Nymph from Karlsruhe shown here is so similar to the earlier versions in New York and Kassel, which are attributed to Lucas Cranach the Younger, that it may be deemed a copy.[2] The centre is occupied by the nude nymph with a transparent veil over her head and vulva. The golden necklace and the bracelets appear more suited to a court lady of Cranach’s time rather than a Goddess of nature. The bow and the quiver full of arrows indicate that the nymph belongs to Diana’s entourage – the Goddess of hunting. At the same time they also recall the weapons of Cupid, the companion of Venus. The partridges at the nymph’s feet, which were a popular prey, also refer to the hunt. They can also be interpreted as an erotic allusion, as according to contemporary views they were particularly unbridled.[3] In mythology nymphs have the reputation of being very chaste, so the partridges cannot be interpreted as an attribute of the reclining figure, but rather as a warning to the viewer with his coveted gaze. In the middle ground water flows from a fountain spring into a pond, behind there is a rocky outcrop with a castle and a fantasized city lies below.

The painting from Karlsruhe is different from most of the other known versions of this subject in the respect that it is very small and painted on metal. This is a painting for a private cabinet, which does not serve a representative purpose, but rather the close-up view should elicit aesthetic appreciation and erotic thrill. The nymph is shown particularly child-like, even dollish and far removed from the ideal body image developed by Albrecht Dürer. Despite the mythological subject there is little trace of the renaissance enthusiasm for antiquity.

The gradual removal from nature on the one hand and the classical prototypes on the other was a tendency of Cranach’s which he passed on to his sons and assistants. However the almost naïve stylisation in the present work suggests that it is not from the Cranach workshop, but rather by a follower from the late 16th or early 17th century. The painter valued the direct eye contact between the nymph and the viewer: unlike in Cranach paintings the beauty looks with wide open eyes out of the image. As such it counteracts the meaning of the epigram, which can be read in the inscription on numerous other paintings of nymphs – the request not to wake the nymph. [4] The inscription can be found on the painting from Karlsruhe in the upper right corner. However it is only revealed in the infrared reflectogram, because it was overpainted at a later stage. The fact that the nymph is wide awake may have prompted this.

Holger Jacob-Friesen

[1] Only a few are listed and illustrated in: Max J. Friedländer/Jakob Rosenberg: Die Gemälde von Lucas Cranach, Basel, Boston, Stuttgart 1979, No. 119, 120, 259, 402, 403.

[2] See: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York/The Robert Lehman Collection, Bd. 2: Fifteenth to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings, New York 1998, No. 10, 48-54; Bernhard Schnackenburg: Staatliche Museen Kassel/Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. Gesamtkatalog, Bd. 1 (Text), Mainz 1996, No. GK 19, 97.

[3] See: Franz Matsche: „Nympha super ripam Danubii“. Cranachs Quellnymphen und ihr Vorbild, in: Andreas Tacke (Hrsg.): Lucas Cranach 1553/2003. Wittenberger Tagungsbeiträge anlässlich des 450. Todesjahres Lucas Cranachs des Älteren, Leipzig 2007, 159-203, (194f.)

[4] „FONTIS NIMPHA SACRI SOMNVM NE RVMPE QVIESCO“ – Ich, die Nymphe der heiligen Quelle, ruhe, störe nicht meinen Schlaf.

  • Reclining nymph, about 1575 - 1625 (?)

Images

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Condition Reports

Date2009

  • the text block in the upper right corner is overpainted

[Jacob-Friesen, Exhibit. Cat. Bremen 2009, 34]

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