Three nymphs playfully drag a Satyr into a woodland pond, while a fourth calls to her companions in the distance. Satyrs—half-man, half-goat—were reputedly unable to swim. Bouguereau exhibited this painting, accompanied by a verse from the Latin poem that inspired it, at the 1873 Paris Salon. Its vaguely classical subject provided an ideal opportunity to demonstrate his skill painting the female nude from multiple viewpoints. An American collector immediately bought the work, which eventually ended up on display in the bar of New York City’s Hoffman House, where Sterling Clark first encountered it.
The artist, sold to Wolfe, 26 June 1873; John Wolfe, New York (1873–82, his sale, Leavitt & Co., New York, 5–6 Apr. 1882, no. 96, sold to Stokes); Edward S. Stokes, New York (1882–d. 1901); James D. Leary, New York (probably 1901–d. 1902); Daniel J. Leary, New York, his son, by descent (probably 1902–d. 1942); estate of Daniel Leary (in 1942, sold to Herbert H. Elfers, 5 June 1942, as agent for Clark); Robert Sterling Clark (1942–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.
Oil on canvas
102 1/2 x 72 in. (260.4 x 182.9 cm)
Frame: 122 1/8 x 90 3/4 x 7 in. (310.2 x 230.5 x 17.8 cm)
Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1942
Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012.