By the 1630s the popularity of commissioning portraits in pastoral guise amid bucolic settings was well established among the Dutch nobility. In The Dutch Arcadia: Pastoral Art and its Audience in the Golden Age, 1983, Alison McNeil Kettering points out that this trend was strongly promoted by the taste of the Stadholder Frederick Hendrick, Prince of Orange, whose 'growing appreciation for idealized, decorative works executed by artists in touch with international trends' was commonly known. First introduced as single pastoral figures by the Utrecht painters in the early 1620s, the earliest multifigural arcadian scenes were being painted by Abraham Bloemaert and Gerrit van Honthorst by the end of the decade. This trend had spread to Amsterdam by the end of the 1630s, and by mid-century the allegorical depiction of sitters was commonplace in portraits commissioned by the middle and upper classes.
The present work combines the grand tradition of classical mythology with an extensive landscape setting and a hunt still life. The union of aristocratic or elite patronage and pastoral literature and painting is an old one, as Kettering observes (op. cit., p. 10): 'The pastoral mode would have signified both to the upper bourgeoisie and to the Dutch nobility not only a courtly literary and theatrical tradition, but the entire mode of life and cultural outlook of the old, landed European elite. In particular, the life of the shepherd or countryman in literature and art would have stood for the vita contemplativa, for tranquility, for freedom from hardship and worry, and for the pleasure and leisured ease afforded those with time on their hands... But it was also a mode of life intimately tied to the land and to rural retirement'.