Hendrik Pot is known to have painted several portraits of shepherds and shepherdesses, often as a pair. The growth in popularity of the pastoral theme went hand-in-hand with the proliferation of pastoral plays, songbooks and poetry in the 17th Century, and was first developed in Utrecht in the early 1620s by Dutch Caravaggist artists such as Hendrick Terbrugghen, Paulus Moreelse and Gerard van Honthorst, who all painted single-figured shepherds and shepherdesses at half length, sometimes with overall sensual appearances, against a neutral background.1 In style, the present painting could very well be a pendant to the shepherd painted by Hendrik Pot (see following lot). However, both paintings slightly differ in size. A remarkable aspect of this painting is the lack of attributes which characterised the shepherdess type in 17th Century Dutch painting, such as staffs, wide-brimmed straw hats, and flowers. More relevant to the sensual appearance of the depicted shepherdess, is the wreath she is holding in her left hand, which would have been understood on a variety of levels by its contemporary audience.2
1. See A. McNeil Kettering, The Dutch Arcadia: Pastoral Art and its Audience in the golden Age, Monclair, New Jersey, 1983, p. 20 c.f.
2. Hendrick Pot also painted a shepherd holding a wreath, which is in the Willem Russell Collection, Amsterdam.
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