The primary sitter holds a bow and arrow, attributes of the hunting goddess, and stands in the same position as used by Schalcken in his portrait of Magdalena de la Court as Diana, probably completed a few years before the present work.1 Schalcken produced at least three larger history paintings of Diana and her Nymphs in a Clearing, indicating that the artist was familiar with the iconography from Ovid's Metamorphosis and perhaps had a special connection to the theme. Having studied theology in his father's Latin School in Dordrecht, Shalcken presumably could read Ovid's text in Latin, not that this was necessary, because the artist could readily consult Karel van Mander's commentary on Ovidian themes in his 1604 Schilder-boeck.
A pupil first of Samuel van Hoogstraten in Dordrecht, then of Gerard Dou in Leiden, Schalcken was--along with Adriaen van der Werff--the premier fijnschilder (refined painter) of the last quarter of the 17th century. The small canvas conveys Schalcken’s refined technique and mastery of texture and light: the elegance of the lady’s upright hairstyle, known as a la fontange, and her shimmering, flowing drapery provide a foil for the agitated hunting dog at lower right.
1. See T. Beherman 1988, cat. no. 66. Beherman dates Magdalena de la Court's portrait to 1676 - 1679.
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