In Greek, nymph translates to young woman. In mythology, these creatures are lesser deities who often represent some aspect of nature, such as a tree, grotto, stream, or region. In art, they are usually depicted as beautiful, sparsely dressed, youthful figures who often hold a flower or some other attribute particular to their story. Some lust after handsome male youths while others are pursued by satyrs, male mortals, or even gods. Daphne is the wood nymph pursued by Apollo and turned into a laurel tree by Peneius to protect her, the theme of Antonio del Pollaiuolo's Apollo and Daphne (1470-1480; London, National Gallery) and Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture of the same subject (1622-1625; Rome, Galleria Borghese). The sea nymph Galatea ridicules the Cyclops Polyphemus in Annibale Carracci's Farnese ceiling (c. 1597-1600; Rome, Palazzo Farnese), and the wood nymph Chloris becomes Flora as reward for Zephirus' indiscretion in Sandro Botticelli's Primavera (c. 1482; Florence, Uffizi). Laurent de la Hyre painted Diana and Her Nymphs in 1644 (Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum), and Artemisia Gentileschi rendered Corsica and the Satyr in the 1640s (private collection), this last work showing the astute nymph who, tired of being pursued, donned a hairpiece that came off as the satyr tried to grab it.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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  • NYMPHS —    in the Greek mythology maiden divinities of inferior rank, inhabiting mountains, groves, seas, fountains, rivers, valleys, grottoes, &c., under the several names of OCEANIDES (q.v.), NEREIDES (q.v.), NAIADS (q.v.), OREADES (q.v.), DRYADS… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • nymphs — nɪmf n. nature deity appearing as a beautiful maiden (Mythology); beautiful young woman; larval stage in insect development (also nympha) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • NYMPHS — …   Useful english dictionary

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