Landscape with Bathing Nudes
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Gift of J. Paul Getty
This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Cornelis van Poelenburgh
Dutch, mid-1600s
Oil on copper
13 x 17 3/8 in.

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A sense of uninhibited freedom pervades the scene as a group of women bathe, lounge, and socialize in an area below a rocky hillside. Drying herself, the woman in the center of the painting turns toward her voluptuous nude companion lying in the foreground. Cornelius van Poelenburgh softly modeled the figures, evoking the texture of tender flesh. The landscape captures the atmospheric qualities of the Italian countryside and deliberately calls to mind an idyllic mythological land filled with languid nymphs.

Van Poelenburgh was best known for cabinet-size paintings, small easel paintings intended to be viewed at close range. Like this one, many were painted on copper and represented ruins, shepherds, peasants, travelers, and an occasional mythological or religious scene.