The Wood Nymph is a statue by Schadow (1810?) that is on display overlooking the Azalea Pool at Middleton Place. This is a much-loved work of art. I have been trying to uncover the history of this statue which is now the icon of Middleton itself.
Before I dive into the detail let me explain the historical significance of the statue and how it managed to survive till today. During the Civil War the north invaded the south. Most of the statues were destroyed and the plantation itself was burned by The Union. However, this admired marble statue was buried in 1865 by slaves in order to preserve it.
The Statue’s actual name doesn’t seem to be “The Wood Nymph”, but Die Sandalenbinderin (Woman Tying Her Sandal). Of course, I must admit that Wood Nymph is a much better name. Interestingly enough Wikipedia makes no mention of the statue and the date of its production contradicts other sources. The statue is most likely one of seven reproductions of the lost original from 1813. The only other replica still known to exist is the one made in 1817. That copy is at Neue Pinakothek, an art museum in Munich.
As you can tell this leaves some pretty big questions. Why is the statue called “The Wood Nymph”? Is that just a name it was given over time after the original name was forgotten? When was the statue really made? Most sources say 1810, but that can’t be right. Schadow didn’t make any of the 7 reproductions until after 1813. Could this be the original that was lost?