This is one of at least five versions of this composition attributed to Lisaert, one of which, in the collection of the Conde del Sacro Imperio, is signed.1 All of Lisaert's versions, however, derive ultimately from a prototype of 1616 by his master Frans Francken the Younger, today in a German private collection.2 An example on panel, of larger dimensions, was sold London, Sotheby's, 5 July 2007, lot 129, for $181,524.
The subject is taken from Matthew, chapter 25, verses 1-13. Ten virgins are given the honor of attending a wedding and each is given a lamp while they await the bridegroom. The five wise virgins, pictured in the right foreground, bring extra oil and, while they wait, employ themselves in virtuous tasks; when the groom arrives they are ready and prepared and go with him. The five foolish virgins, here depicted in the left background, fritter away their time playing music and dancing, and neglect to bring extra oil; their lamps ultimately burn out and they therefore miss the groom's arrival.
1. The others are in Madrid, Museo del Prado, inv. no. 2724; Caracas, Juan Rohe collection; Toronto, Sellers collection.
2. See U. Härting, Frans Francken der Jüngere, Freren 1989, p. 268, cat. no. 142, reproduced fig. 49.