The artist, christened Louise Maria but known as Louise Hollandine, was the sixth child and second daughter of Frederick V and Elizabeth of Bohemia, the Winter King and Queen, and sister of the celebrated Prince Rupert of the Rhine. Born after her parents' flight to the United Provinces in 1621, she grew up at their Court in The Hague where she became a pupil of Gerard Honthorst. The latter, after being commissioned by Louise's uncle, King Charles I of England, to paint the family of the Winter King and Queen in 1628-9, had rapidly become the favourite portraitist of the Court in exile, moving from Utrecht to The Hague in 1637, and was therefore in a position to be able to nurture the Princess' artistic talent. Inevitably his royal protégé did not become a professional artist, although her eventual course was perhaps even more unexpected, as in 1658 she ran away to France to become a Catholic nun, being appointed Abbess of the Covent of Maubisson in 1664, where she spent the remainder of her life.
A few portraits by Louise Hollandine are known, including three depicting Elisabeth of Hessen-Cassel, Elisabeth of Nassau and her sister Elisabeth Charlotte of the Rhine in the Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum, Hanover; a portrait by Louise of her younger sister, Sophie (mother of King George I of England), was sold, Christie's, New York, 12 January 1994, lot 59. For a full discussion of her life and painting abilities, see A. von Rohr, '"Peint par Louise Hollandine", Louise Hollandine Prinzessin von der Pfalz (1622-1709)', in Niederdeutsche Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte, 1989, 28, pp. 143-60. The identities of the present allegorically-depicted sitters are unknown; it is, however, extremely plausible that they might be members of Louise Hollandine's extended family. Given the future Royal position of Erichthonius (one suspects that the fate of the sisters was overlooked), it is likely that the child depicted was himself a future head of state, and it is tantalising therefore that the future stadtholder Willem III (and future King of England, although that was unknown at the time of his birth) was born in 1650 eight days after the death of his father, Willem II, and - already the head of the House of Orange - was brought up by his mother, Princess Mary, and two aunts, Louise of Orange-Nassau and Albertina of Orange-Nassau.
Ovid relates in his Metamorphoseis (II: 552-564) how Vulcan, in a clumsy effort to rape Minerva, accidentally fertilized the earth, which led to the birth of Erichthonius. Minerva hid the child in a chest of willow. She ordered the three daughters of Cecrops to guard the chest, but told them not to look inside. One, Aglauros, disobeyed and unfastened the chest. Inside she found the baby, its lower half a snake. Terrified, the three girls threw themselves to their death from the top of the Acropolis. Erichthonius was brought up by Minerva and became the first king of Athens.