This is one of the earliest paintings in a series of erotically-charged images featuring young girls offering mouth-watering delicacies to the viewer, painted by an array of artists throughout the seventeenth century. Today still one of the most popular national dishes in the Netherlands, pancakes were eaten throughout the year in the seventeenth century, but especially on Shrove Tuesday. Leaning out of a deceptively realistic painted stone window, the life-size young woman addresses the spectator directly. This image anticipates Jan Steen’s well-known picture in the Mauritshuis of a girl preparing an oyster to serve to the spectator (fig. 1). Werner van den Valckert was active in The Hague, Amsterdam and Delft and is primarily known as a leading history and portrait painter; genre scenes by his hand are exceptionally rare.
The depiction of large half-length figures harks back to sixteenth century genre scenes by such masters as Quinten Massijs, Marinus van Reymerswale and Jan Sanders van Hemessen, but was given fresh impetus in the Netherlands by artists returning home from Rome, having been exposed to the powerfully innovative scenes by Caravaggio employing this compositional formula. In 1623, the Utrecht Caravaggist Gerard van Honthorst painted two companion pieces of a flute player (Schwerin, Staatliches Museum) and a violinist (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum), each in a similar square stone niche and these, or similar works, no doubt inspired Van den Valckert in the present work.