CRANACH, Lucas the Younger
(b. 1515, Wittenberg, d. 1586, Weimar)

Nymph of the Spring

Oil on beech panel, 15 x 20 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This small painting shows a nude woman reclining on the grassy bank of a river, near a spring that issues from a rock formation. Looking toward the viewer, she identifies herself and offers a word of caution through the first-person Latin inscription at the upper right: "I, nymph of the sacred spring, am resting; do not disturb my sleep." A bow and quiver hang in a nearby tree, signaling that the nymph belongs to the entourage of the huntress goddess Diana. The scene is openly erotic.

The meticulously detailed landscape background is populated by tiny humans and animals.