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Narcissus looking at his reflection in a pool, watched by nymphs. Etching by F. Vivares, 1743, after Claude Lorraine.

  • Lorrain, Claude, 1600-1682.
March 4th 1743
  • Pictures

About this work


Narcissus is shown looking at his reflection in a pool, as described in Ovid, Metamorphoses III.407-510. Ovid says that Narcissus had deceived nymphs of both waters and mountains ("alias undis aut montibus ortas / luserat hic nymphas", vv. 402-403), and, using the same taxonomy, that his wasting away was mourned by both naiads (the nymphs of the pool) and dryads (nymphs of the woods): "Planxere sorores / naides et sectos fratri posuere capillos, / planxerunt dryades: plangentibus adsonat Echo"(vv. 505-507). Claude shows two women watching Narcissus from the trees: they are the dryads or mountain nymphs, the guardians of the woods. A woman reclining by the pool in the foreground has as her attribute a jug from which water is flowing: she is one of the naiads or water nymphs, the guardians of the pool. Echo is not shown corporeally, as her body had wasted away leaving only her voice ("vox manet", v. 399)

In the distance, a drover drives livestock over a bridge: they are in the distance because the pool was not approached by any shepherds or flocks (Ovid, op. cit. vv. 408-409, "quem neque pastores neque pastae monte capellae / contigerant, aliudve pecus). In the far distance is a view to the sea. Right, a castle on a cliff

The naiad in the foreground reclines in a pose based on that of the statue called Cleopatra or Ariadne, in the Vatican (F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the antique. The lure of classical sculpture 1500-1900, New Haven and London 1981, pp. 184-187, no. 24). The setting is supposed to be Greece but is based on Ovid's description of the scene interpreted through Claude's views of the Roman Campagna


[London] : Publish'd by Ar. Pond, March 4th 1743.

Physical description

1 print : etching, with engraving ; platemark 31.8 x 41 cm


In the collection of Peter Delmé esq.r 4 feet wide. 3 feet 2 inch high. Claudio Gillee Lorenese pinxit 1644. Vivares sculp.

References note

D. Cecchi, L'opera completa di Claude Lorrain, Milan: Rizzoli, 1975, p. 103, no. 139


Wellcome Library no. 3055822i

Reproduction note

After a painting by Claude composed in the opposite direction, which passed through the collections of Sir Peter Lely, Peter Delmé (as recorded in the present print), and Sir George Beaumont, by whom it was given in 1826 to the National Gallery, London (Cecchi, loc. cit.)


  • English

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