Paulus Moreelse

1571 - 1638

An Allegory of a young Lady protecting her Innocence.


Oil on Canvas




75(h) x 90(w) cms


This apparently unrecorded genre subject by Moreelse is a recent rediscovery and adds itself to only a few other examples of what is a very rare subject matter for the artist. His paintings of shepherdesses are perhaps the best known of the genre paintings, as well as the paintings of allegories of other beautiful young women displaying their jewels and looking into mirrors.

The inference here is that the young lady is holding on precariously to her virtue. She holds her hand protectively over the nesting birds to prevent them from flying away, an allusion to her virginity. A popular metaphor illustrated so well by Jacob Cats - 'het vlucht/krijg het lucht' (it flies at the first occasion. This young lady would do well to watch out!

A painting in the same vein, but with a rather more lascivious subject matter, was in Amsterdam in 1938. This was painted on panel and dated 1629.


Private Collection, Spain