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Paulus Jansz. Moreelse (Utrecht 1571-1638)
Paulus Jansz. Moreelse (Utrecht 1571-1638)

Shepherdess with a tambourine

Paulus Jansz. Moreelse (Utrecht 1571-1638)
Shepherdess with a tambourine
signed with monogram and dated ‘PM: 1635’ (upper right)
oil on panel
29 1/8 x 23 3/8 in. (74 x 59.4 cm.)
(Possibly) sale, Amsterdam, De Vries/Roos, 31 March 1846, lot 62 (to Roos, together with lot 61, a pendant picture:’... een jonge Herder, met een roode muts op het hoofd, houdende in de rechter hand een blad muzijk, van hetwelck hij schijnt te zingen, terwijl hij met zijn linker hand op zijn staf leunt; ... paneel, 75 x 60 duim’).
(Possibly) sale Amsterdam, De Vries/Roos, 16 November 1853, lot 218 (80 NLG to Roos, together with a pendant: ‘Een arcadische Herder…paneel, 73 x59 duim’).
(Possibly) sale, Amsterdam, 26 April 1854, lot 28 (with a pendant, Een Arcadische Herder, met een blad muzijk in de rechterhand en een staf in de linker ... paneel)’.
with Gebroeders Douwes, Amsterdam, 1973.
Private collection, United Kingdom, 1984.
with Gebroeders Douwes, Amsterdam, 1984.
G. Daleboudt, Nijkerk.
with Gebroeders Douwes, Amsterdam, 1985, from whom acquired.
‘Gebr. Douwes. zes generaties in aparte schilderijen’, Kunstbeeld, 1984.
E.N. Domela Nieuwenhuis Nyegaard, Paulus Moreelse (1571-1638), Leiden, 2001, pp. 618-19, no. SAH207.
Delft, Museum Het Prinsenhof, 25e Oude Kunst- en Antiekbeurs: der Vereeniging van Handelaren in Oude Kunst in Nederland, 1973.
New York, Christopher Janet, 1984, no. 8a.
Sale Room Notice
Please note that the signature on this painting may be a later addition (please refer to the condition report for further details).

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Lot Essay

Though Moreelse primarily worked as a civic portraitist in his native Utrecht, he was among the first Dutch painters to create Arcadian images of shepherds and shepherdesses, a genre that flourished in Utrecht in the first half of the seventeenth century. Paulus Moreelse was not only a skilled painter but also worked as an architect, urban planner and draftsman. Born to a wealthy family in Utrecht, Moreelse studied in Delft with the portrait painter Michiel van Mierevelt. A subsequent period of travel in Italy enhanced his studies by providing an opportunity for him to learn first-hand about artistic production south of the Alps. By 1596, he had returned to Utrecht and joined the saddle-makers’ guild, to which painters belonged before 1611, when Moreelse and Abraham Bloemaert (among others) founded the city’s chapter of the Guild of St. Luke. In addition to being one of Utrecht’s leading painters, Moorelse was deeply involved in the city’s civic life. He joined the town council in 1618 and later supported the founding of the city’s university. Moreelse’s public presence helped advance his artistic career, furnishing him with numerous prominent commissions.

The artistic precedent for this painting of a shepherdess, and the following lot of a shepherd, can be found in the flute-playing shepherds painted by Giorgione and his school, which Moreelse and his contemporaries may have observed on their Italian tours. However, the contemporary impetus for such subject matter was literary rather than visual. While Arcadian and pastoral texts had circulated throughout Western Europe in the preceding centuries, they were first published in the Low Countries in the early 1600s. Among the most famous of these was Granida, a play by Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft, which contemplated the duality between idealistic love and blatant eroticism. Published in 1615, Granida provided ample subject matter for Moreelse, whose first images of amorous shepherds and shepherdesses date to 1622. These images were avidly consumed by Utrecht’s elite, appealing both to their nobility and baser senses.

This painting and the following lot have been a matched pair since 1973. The shepherdess is the only known single female figure by Moreelse holding a musical instrument in her hands (Nieuwenhuis, op. cit.). Though her presumed pendant appears to be lost, it is likely the one depicted in a drawing by Henriette A. van Eys, sold as lot 304, 28-29 August 1989, at Diederiks Auction BV, The Hague.

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