Nymphaeum (Nymphaion, Greek: Νυμφαῖον), (German: Nymphäum)

was a monument consecrated to the nymphs, especially those of springs. These monuments were originally natural grottoes, which tradition assigned as habitations to the local nymphs. They were sometimes so arranged as to furnish a supply of water.

The nymphaea of the Roman period, which extended the sacral use to purely recreational ones, were mostly build as “rotundas”, and were adorned with statues and paintings. They served the threefold purpose of sanctuaries, reservoirs and assembly-rooms. A special feature was their use for the celebration of marriages. The roman palace of Emperor Domitian (51-96) had a nymphaeum, the Villa Tivoli (Tibur) of Emperor Hadrian (76-138) held no less than five !

Discovering the meaning of a Nymphaeum by finding Max Roeder’s etching “Nymphäum” (read here) it became clear to me this section of the exhibition and section of my modest collection of works showing the natural beauty of women can best be described as such: 

Nymphaeum: A gathering place of nymphs and muses. 

Besides drawing Italian landscapes and villas Max Roeder also set his mind and phantasies free according to this painting “Seerosenteich” or lily pond. It was exhibited in 1901 in Berlin’s “Großer Kunstausstellung”.    

The  preserved Nymphaeum of Nimes, once lined with statues of bathing nymphs and the playground of the rich and wealthy, the classic oligarchs. 

Nymph (Greek: νύμφη, nýmphē, Ancient [nýmpʰɛː] Modern [nífi]) 

A nymph in Greek mythology is a supernatural being, associated with many other minor female deities often associated with the air, seas or water, or particular locations or landforms. Different from Greek goddesses, nymphs are more generally regarded as divine spirits who animate or maintain Nature for the environments where they live, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young graceful maidens. They are often divided into various broad subgroups, such as Aria (winds), Hesperides (evening and sunsets), Nereides (seas), Naiades (rivers and streams) and Dryades (trees and forests).

William Adolphe Bouqereau (1825-1905) also set his mind and his brushes free, creating his “Nymphaeum” painting. 13 nymphs posing playful along a pond. Every boys dream. This painting now is in the Haggin Museum in Stockton California. It was bought and collected by filthy rich Louis  Haggin while living in Paris. His daughter Ella donated the best part of the immense Haggin art collection while her husband, equally rich Robert McKee donated the funds for building the museum to house it.  

With his colleague Jean Léon Gerôme (1824-1905) the is responsible for many ivory skinned idealised nymph and goddesses paintings.

This Nymphaeum section in “DAS HAUS DER FRAU”  shows the graphic works collected along building my collection of colour woodblock prints.  It following 3 Themes: “Badende” (a classic theme of bathing women),  Three Graces (Aglaya, Euphrosine and Thalia) and the classic, Academic female nude. 

I hope sharing this collection will please the visitor as much as assembling the works of art created over 4 centuries by a variety of artists. 

Descending in a friendly dreamlike mythic world is something that can be recommended. Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin (1927-1901) and thus contemporary of both French mentioned above painters translates this feeling very well: Pann playing his flute overlooking the sea, his muse in dreamland. Also very Dolce Far Niente ………….