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Franchoys Wouters, Nymphs surprised by Satyrs

Key facts
Full title Nymphs surprised by Satyrs
Artist Franchoys Wouters
Artist dates 1612 - 1659/60
Date made about 1650-60
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 43.3 × 58.1 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by M. Forster, 1845
Inventory number NG1871
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Nymphs surprised by Satyrs
Franchoys Wouters

Two sleeping nymphs have been discovered by a pair of satyrs (mythological woodland creatures who were half human and half goat). The satyrs sneak forwards, intent on shocking the nymphs awake; their tanned complexions and rugged looks contrast with the nymphs' smooth, pale skin. In the landscape behind, three more nymphs bathe in a still pool – they too are about to be startled by a creeping satyr.

The coat of arms of the city of Antwerp has been painted on the back of this panel. Wouters had trained as an artist in Antwerp and worked in Rubens’s studio from 1634. Later, he spent time in London but by 1641 he had returned to Antwerp, where he remained for the rest of his life.

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