Although he did train in Antwerp, Van Thulden is thought not to have been a pupil of Rubens. It was Rubens nonetheless who was the most dominant influence in his development, and for whom he worked in the 1630s, for example on the designs for the Pompa Introitus Ferdinandi in 1635. Van Thulden was also strongly influenced by his trip to France in 1631-3, and in particular by the Primaticcio's and Nicolo dell'Abate's frescoed decorations at Fontainebleau, which he scrupulously copied.
In 1644 Van Thulden returned to his native 's-Hertogenbosch, where he remained until his death in 1669. The present picture was painted shortly after he settled there, and is a typical work of this period, when he showed a marked preference for Classical subject matter. Together with other works of this period, such as the Perseus delivering Andromeda of 1646 in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, in which the classically dressed figure of Perseus is a noticeable parallel to the present figure of Athena. The present work, with its soft modelling and languid elegance reveals another influence absorbed during his stays in Antwerp: that of Van Dyck, whose influence is yet more strongly seen in Van Thulden's portraiture.
 Inv. no. 853; see Literature, Roy 1991-2, pp. 175-6, cat. no. 32, reproduced, also on the cover of the exhibition catalogue.
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