The Bather

Class Year



image preview

Creation Date

Fall 2012




The Bather
Ferdinando Andreini
White marble
Late nineteenth century.
The statue may be showing Artemis in the moments before she sees Actaeon spying on her.


The statue is one of several done by Andreini. At the base of the statuette is an inscription that reads “Ferdinando Andreini Firenze.” Andreini was an Italian sculptor, born in 1843. He worked in Florence and studied under Ulysse Cambo. At the age of seventeen he started exhibiting his works in salons, especially those in Florence and Turin. The Bather is one of a collection of nude or nearly nude female figures done by Andreini near the end of the nineteenth century.[1] Among them is a sculpture called Three Nymphs, which depicts three young women frolicking or fleeing. The additional sculpture adds credence to the possibility that The Bather may be Artemis.The statue in our collection was a gift from the Art History Department of Gettysburg College. Though the College has been in possession of the statue for many years, no records were found of where the College got the statue from.


The Bather is small statuette of a young woman discarding her garment as she steps into a pool of water. The movement of the water is shown by ripples and foam at the edge of the rock that the woman is standing on. On her head she wears a tiara with a fleur de lis, an age old symbol of Florence[2], emblazoned on it. She is shapely and naturalistic; she is an idealized woman who displays perfect features, appropriate for her status as a Goddess.


Included in the Renaissance collections would be statues, sometimes small scale reproductions of famous works. Such statues can be seen in paintings and prints depicting collections. For example Ole Worm (Danish, 1588-1655) had a miniature of Giambologna’s The Rape of the Sabine Woman, visible on the shelf in the image of his collection.

The Bather is exactly the type of sculpture that collectors like Rudolf II would have liked to receive. Rudolf II (1575-1612), Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Archduke of Austria, had an extensive and varied collection that included numerous statues and paintings. He had a taste for women, and an easy way to gain access to the otherwise reclusive Emperor was to present him with a gift with an erotic or sensuous appeal.[3] His court artists would include images of nudity or near nudity in pieces that did not require nudity by subject or tradition, like The Triumph of Wisdom, which shows a bare breasted Athena.[4]

Renaissance scholars revered the works of antiquity, especially Aristotle and Pliny. In their collections they would have copies of classical works, as well as statues and paintings by artists of their own time that illustrated ancient stories such as Giambologna’s The Rape of the Sabine or The Transformation of Actaeon by Pietro Solari. Gods and Goddesses were often sculpted nude, their nudity emphasizing their perfection. Our Bather follows in a tradition of artistic female nudes which goes back to the Praxiteles and his Aphrodite.[5]


The Bather may be a representation of Diana stepping into her bath before the transformation of Actaeon. Diana was shown wearing a tiara or diadem, often with lunar or floral designs.[6] In the myth, Actaeon sees the Goddess of the hunt, Diana, while she is bathing. Enraged, Diana transforms Actaeon into a stag. He is then chased and devoured by his own hunting dogs. It is interesting to note that in the version of the myth presented by Thomas Bulfinch, the grotto in which Diana bathed was naturally occurring but resembled a man made structure. Diana was a powerful goddess, representing the hunt, the moon, and childbirth. As a powerful goddess of the hunt she was usually shown fully dressed with her bow at the ready and an animal, usually a dear or dog, at her side.[7] Our statue shows the Goddess at her most vulnerable, neither dog nor bow at her side, as she steps into her bath moments before Actaeon shows up, with only her godly power at her disposal.


[1] Arcadja.com

[2] Hall, James. Dictionary of Subjects & Symbols in Art. Harper & Row Boulder, 1974. p. 124
[3] Marshall, Peter, The Magic Circle of Rudolf II: Alchemy and Astrology in Renaissance Prague. Walker and Company, New York, 2006. p. 61
[4] Marshal, The Magic Circle of Rudolf II p. 67
[5] Adams, Laurie Scheider,Art Across Time: Volume I Prehistory to the Fourteenth Century. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2011. p. 139
[6] Greek Gods and Heroes. n.p.: Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1962. p. 32
[7] Greek Gods and Heroes. p. 30