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Relief  - Nymph of Fontainbleau
  • Nymph of Fontainbleau
    Cellini, Benvenuto, born 1500 - died 1571
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Nymph of Fontainbleau

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (the original, made)

  • Date:

    1542 (made)
    19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cellini, Benvenuto, born 1500 - died 1571 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court , case WE

This is a fragment of a plaster cast of a relief of the Nymph of Fontainbleu made in the 19th century. The original Nympf of Fontainbleu relief was made in bronze by Benvenuto Cellini, in Italy in 1542, and is in the collection of the Louvre.

This is part of a scheme for the tympanum of 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.

Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571) was trained as a goldsmith in Florence. He developed great skill and originality in his techniques. He lived a dramatic but vibrant life which is documented in his autobiography (unfinished, but published in 1728). This book was translated by many writers, one of them Goethe and was the basis for Berlioz' opera 'Benvenuto Cellini' (1837). As a sculptor he has a Mannerist style, which is elaborate, elegant and precious. He stands for the tragic yet roamantic artist.

Physical description

This semicircle relief depicts a nymph lying naked. With numerous woodland animals. The nymph has her arm around the neck of a stag.

Place of Origin

Italy (the original, made)


1542 (made)
19th century (made)


Cellini, Benvenuto, born 1500 - died 1571 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast


Height: 205 cm, Length: 409 cm

Descriptive line

Relief, fragment, plaster cast, of Nymph of Fontainbleau in bronze made in Italy in 1542 by Benvenuto Cellini, cast 19th century





Subjects depicted

Stag; Nymph; Animals


Sculpture; Plaster Cast; Myths & Legends


Sculpture Collection

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