The subject of the present work painting comes from an episode in Boccaccio's Decameron (5:1), in which Cimon, the coarse son of a nobleman of Cyprus, falls in love with the maiden Iphigenia and finally marries her after a series of misfortunes. The effects of his love transform him into an elegant and cultured gentleman. This moral allegory was popular with seventeenth-century Netherlandish painters. Here the artist has chosen to depict the moment when Cimon, clad in peasant clothing, first sets eyes on Iphigenia as she lies asleep beside a fountain in a woodland setting.
Another version of the present composition (oil on panel, 25½ x 21½ in.) was in the collection of the Comte Du Barry and then with the Prince de Conti (see. Hofstede de Groot, op. cit., no. 142).