Nymphs and Satyr
Oil on canvas
In Bouguereau's famous painting, a group of nymphs have been surprised, while bathing in a secluded pond, by a lascivious satyr. Some of the nymphs have retreated into the shadows on the right; others, braver than their friends, are trying to dampen the satyr's ardor by pulling him into the cold water -- one of the satyr's hooves is already wet and he clearly wants to go no further. Bouguereau's working methods were traditional; he made a number of sketches and drawings of carefully posed human figures in complicated interconnected poses, linking them together in this wonderfully rhythmical composition. The painting was exhibited in Paris in 1873, just one year before the Impressionists mounted their first exhibition. Impressionist paintings must have seemed very radical by contrast with Bouguereau's more traditional style. Mr. Clark first encountered the painting at the end of the nineteenth century, when it hung in the bar of the Hoffman House Hotel in New York City. He discovered it there later, in the 1930s, in storage, and acquired it in 1943.
This work is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.