Nymphs and Satyr (French: Nymphes et un satyre) is a painting, oil on canvas, created by artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1873.
Nymphs and Satyr was exhibited in Paris at the 1873 Salon, which opened on 5 May, a year before the Impressionists mounted their first exhibition. One critic called it "the greatest painting of our generation". Purchased for 35,000 francs by the American art collector and speculator John Wolfe on 26 June, 1873, it was displayed in his mansion for many years alongside other high-style French academic paintings. It was sold at auction in 1888, after which the painting was displayed in the bar of the Hoffman House Hotel, New York City until 1901, when it was bought and stored in a warehouse, the buyer hoping to keep its 'offensive' content from the public.
Robert Sterling Clark discovered the piece in storage and acquired it in 1942. The piece is currently on display at the Clark Art Institute located in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Nymphs and Satyr provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Evil: While the nymphs seem playful, but they are all crowding around the satyr and he seems adamantly against joining them in the pond. Considering naiads — a type of water nymph — are sometimes known to drown the men they seduce, it is likely the same will happen here.
- Fauns and Satyrs: Among the various nymphs is a single satyr playing with them.
- Our Nudity Is Different: Common for Classical Mythology art, not a single character is clothed, the only bit of textile being a bit of transluscent fabric a nymph is playfully wrapping around the satyr's arm. While all of the genitalia is tastefully censored with said fabric and a tree branch, breasts and butts are on full-display.
- Our Nymphs Are Different: There are nearly a dozen nymphs, portrayed as being nude, beautiful women, a few in the background and four playing with the satyr.
- Sexual Euphemism: Considering the history between satyrs and nymphs, their playfulness probably goes beyond chaste. The Clarke Institute's analysis seems to think that the metaphor could be much darker, with the pond representing the act itself, the nymphs 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." Considering satyrs are famous for being the horny bastards preying on nymphs, this can be seen as a case of Hoist by His Own Petard and The Hunter Becomes the Hunted.
- Teamwork Seduction: Four different nymphs all crowding around a single satyr to get him into the water seems to be this.