Purchased from Monsieur Desachy in 1864 for £36
The Nymph of Fontainebleau
Benvenuto Cellini (1500-71)
Musée du Louvre, Paris, France
Part of a scheme for the principal entrance to the palace at Fontainbleau commissioned from Cellini by Francois I of France. Cellini intended the subject of the lunette to be both an allegory of Fontainebleau and to show the stag, a device of Francois I, as a reference to the King. Above the Nymph of Fontainebleau, there were to have been two torch bearing Victory figures crowned by a salamander, the emblem of the King. The gate was to have been supported by two great satyrs. Due to the death of the King, in 1547, this project was left unfinished. The satyrs, executed as models, were never cast, and the pose of one of them is recorded in a drawing in the Ian Woodner family collection in New York and in a related bronze in a private collection in Geneva. The Nymph of Fontainebleau was never installed, and was subsequently presented by Henri II of France to his Mistress, Diane de Poitiers who replaced it, together with the Victories, over the entrance to the Chateau d'Anet. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Nymph of Fontainebleau was replaced by a cast at Anet, and the original transferred to the Louvre. The Victory figures were lost by the end of the nineteenth century, and are now known only through casts in the Louvre.