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Adriaen van der Werff: 'A Boy with a Mousetrap'

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In the 18th century the painting had a pendant, 'A Boy putting a Bird in a Cage' (present location unknown). It has been argued that the two pictures form an iconographically related pair whose subject is moderation in love. In classical literature a mouse and mousetrap are employed as symbols of punished intemperance and this imagery is also found in the work of the 17th-century Dutch poets, Vondel, Cats and Heinsius. In this interpretation the bird-cage in the pendant would refer to the idea of love's pleasurable captivity.

This work belongs to the earliest group of genre pictures painted by van der Werff in about 1678-9.

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