Adriaen van der Werff (1959 – 1722)
Adriaen van der Werff was one of the most famous artists of his day. His paintings embody the aesthetic criteria of the international Baroque classicism of the late 17th century. He was well versed in the courtly aesthetic theory of his time that favored the classicist style of the Italian Renaissance over the ‘picturesque’ Dutch paintings of the 16th century. The painting is executed in the style of the Leiden Fijnschilders. The body volumes of the female nude arise through subtly graduated zones of light and shadow that give the flesh a porcelain-like smoothness. The reduction of the motif to the figure is in line with a rejection of decoration with attributes and allegorical allusions. Only the discarded quiver and the dark, set-like forest landscape indicate the Roman goddess on the hunt. Diana is naked except for a silk cloth. Her posture, the playful motion of the arm and her downcast eyes indicate a pensive state of mind that turns the viewer into an unnoticed observer. Not imitation of nature, or a lofty motif, but the expression of the deftly chosen aesthetic technique is what distinguishes this artful painting.