This highly refined and finished scene of a poulterer's shop, viewed through a draped, open window, forms part of a rich tradition of meticulously executed works characteristic of the Leiden fijnschilders
. Both in style and subject matter it is entirely consistent with the artist's mature output in which he assimilates the technique of his father, Frans van Mieris, as well as a compositional format made popular by Gerrit Dou a generation earlier. The picture surface, which is in a beautiful state of preservation, is rendered with a smooth, enamel-like finish in the skin of the figures, as is the trompe-l'oeil
bas-relief, as he does in a number of works from this mature period, for example The Greengrocer
(see fig. 1; Wallace Collection, London) executed a few years after (1731) the present work. This adeptness in rendering realistic surfaces is further highlighted in the superbly naturalistic representation of the various soft materials such as the hair, feathers, and draped wool. The combination of a strong, luminous light and a virtuoso attention to detail defines the forms and differing textures within the scene with a level of verisimilitude for which the Leiden fijnschilders
were as admired during their lifetime as they are today.
The bas-relief featured at the base of the composition, which Van Mieris repeats in a number of other works, is closely related to a design by François Du Quesnoy that was earlier borrowed by Gerrit Dou for two works similarly depicting young ladies at a window.1
1. See, for example, the 1732-dated Grocer's Shop sold London, Christie's, 13 December 1991, lot 36, and the 1710-dated Quack doctor sold Vienna, Dorotheum, 9-10 March 1993, lot 246; the two Dous are in London, National Gallery, and Rotterdam, Boijmans van Beuningen Museum and for sculpted examples of the design see M. Boudon-Machuel, François du Quesnoy, Paris 2005, p. 276ff, cat. no. In.64a.