This painting is strongly reminiscent of the female figure and facial types of artists from the Rudolfine Court in Prague, such as Joseph Heintz the Elder and Dirk de Quade van Ravesteyn, although the unusual reddish-brown ground suggests that it may be later in date. The beautiful figure at center finds its source in a classical marble, the so-called Crouching Venus,
that was well known by the mid-sixteenth century and inspired artists across various media, perhaps the most famous being Giambologna's bronze. It is thought that Heintz freely drew an adaptation of this bronze using a live model imitating the sculpture's pose.1
The goddess of Venus is rendered in a comparable crouching pose in Heintz's copper of Venus, Cupid and Apollo
The present work is also particularly close in conception to two panels of a recumbent female nude, probably a Sleeping Venus,
and though both were traditionally given to Heintz, they are now generally accepted to be by Ravesteyn.3
by Ravesteyn is recorded in 1662 in the possessions of Elizabeth Sweerts, widow of Paulus Aertsz. van Ravesteyn, where it was celebrated in a poem by Hieronymous Sweerts.4
Though that work is now unlocated, it seems possible that the present painting may record this missing Venus.
1. Private collection, London; see J. Zimmer, Joseph Heintz der Ältere, Munich/Berlin 1988, p. 155, no. A 88 N, reproduced plate 131.
2. See T. DaCosta Kaufmann, The School of Prague. Painting at the Court of Rudolf II, Chicago-London 1988, p. 193, cat. no. 7.34, reproduced.
3. idem. pp. 224-5, nos. 16.12 & 16.13, both reproduced).
4. "Op een Venus-beeld door Ravesteyn schilder van Keizer Rudulfus geschildert," idem. p. 225.