NIEULANDT, Adriaen van, the Younger
(b. 1587, Antwerpen, d. 1658, Amsterdam)
Oil on canvas, 194 x 247 cm
Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig
It is difficult to say with any certainty which scene is depicted in the background of this painting. It may well be the story of an epileptic 'with an evil spirit,' recorded several times in the Bible. The action in the foreground may then be related to it by the fact that the exorcised 'demons' often took possession of animals. But whichever interpretation we may prefer, there can be no doubt that the freshly killed animals, and particularly the chicken being plucked by the young woman with the low neckline, are symbolic indications of the temptations of the flesh.