Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1546.
The Fountain of Youth has the magical property of restoring the health and looks of those who bathe in it. Legend lists a number of such places. While we may not be looking for quite this now, belief in the healing properties of bathing has never disappeared. It is curious that in Cranach’s painting only women are seeking restoration, entering old on the left, leaving young on the right. Men seem just as youth-seeking, to the level of injecting themselves with monkey glands and other such deceptions.
- The Fountain of Youth (Wikipedia) details some of the legends.
- Lucas Cranach’s painting is in the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin. Unfortunately not one of those in the Google collection from the gallery, though it does include one of his many famous versions of Adam and Eve.
- Larger view of the painting in the Cranach archive
- Commentary on the painting (Wikipedia).
- The image shown is of a fine reproduction in the extraordinary Otsuka Museum of Art in the south of Japan: see it on YouTube (7 min tour). Worth a look.
- A detail of this image is used as a header for this website.