This bronze high-relief was made by the Italian sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, between 1542 and 1543, during his second trip to France. And it was commissioned by King Francis I to decorate the tympanum of a door in the Palace of Fontainebleau, although it is currently in theLouvre. Also during that trip and commissioned by the monarch, he made an impressive s alt shaker that is among the best pieces of crockery ever created.
Nymph of Fontainebleau by Cellini
But returning to the Nymph of Fontainebleau, we see a large relief that presents us with the goddess Diana the huntress, who is lying down and naked, while with one of her arms she is hugging a deer with huge antlers. Perhaps excessive horns, but the sculptor increased them with all the bad intentions in the world, since with them he wanted to make fun of her model's husband, with whom he was sleeping.
That spirit of ridicule not only turns him against the model's husband and her lover, but also makes her pose in a tremendously uncomfortable position, so that she can show that this relationship has some domination and sadism. And it is that behind this image there is a passionate story of jealousy, sex and pride.
Actually, Catalina, the name of the model, was Cellini's mistress and lived with him, but a goodOne day he discovered that he was cheating on him, precisely with the artist's accountant.
It is said that Cellini discovered him, and given his violent character, he went to throw it in the woman's face. And she, to defend herself against her, accused him of "having used her in the Italian way, that is, as a sodomite." That was a serious crime in France at the time, and in fact if he was found guilty he could end up with the sentence of being burned at the stake.
However, Cellini was immune from that accusation, and decided how to take revenge. He dedicated himself to following Catalina and her lover, until he caught them together, and under threats, he forced them to marry and not only that, but he also forced Catalina to pose for him again in his Ninfa.
But it doesn't end here, it continues to get complicated. In fact, although it may seem incredible, Cellini and Catalina became her lovers again, and he laughed at her, even hit her, and it is definitely that both she and he were excited by masochistic games. But perhaps they reached a point of no return, and the woman ended up leaving him without the relief being completely finished.
There were still two Victories figures missing for the sides (which have not arrived to this day). And for those figures he used a 15-year-old model, whom she impregnated and gave Cellini the first recognized daughter.