The Nymph of Fontainebleau

Artist: French (Fontainebleau) Painter (third quarter 16th century)

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 26 x 47 3/4 in. (66 x 121.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Heyward Cutting, 1942

Accession Number: 42.150.12


The subject of the oval framed at the center of this composition is the origin of the name of Fontainebleau: a thirsty hunting dog named Bleau separated from its master and found in the forest a clear, pure spring; his master, "one of our kings," named the spring after him "la Fontaine de Bleau."

This painting and one in the collection of Baron Seillière, Paris, are derived from an engraving (Robert-Dumesnil catalogue, no 18) which has been given variously to René Boyvin, Pierre Milan and, most recently, to both, jointly (see Zerner 1969). Both paintings bear the inscription that appears on the print. Rosso Fiorentino is given credit for the engraving's design, which was used for a decoration on the south wall of the central section of the Galerie François I in the Palace of Fountainebleau. Rosso died before the scheme was completed and only the decorative framework was carried out; in place of the central medallion is a painting by Francesco Primaticcio of Danae.

For information about the Seillière painting, see Barbet de Jouy, Gazette des Beaux-Arts 2 (1861), pp. 7–12, who mentions the engraving by Boyvin and publishes the Seillière picture, once in the collection of Cardinal Fesch, later at Château d'Anet, and in 1861 in the possession of Count de Laborde. See also Kurt Kusenberg, Le Rosso, 1931, p. 112 n. 292, p. 118 n. 318.