Mieris was extremely popular during his lifetime and this popularity continued throughout the whole of the 18th century. He fell out of favour in the late 19th century along with all the fijnschilders – “precious painters”– of the Leiden school of which he was one of the most talented exponents.
This style of painting has undertones of gallantry, with the association of music and love so common in Dutch painting of the 17th century representing the artist and his wife Cunera van der Cock (1629/1630 – 1700). It also illustrates the theme of the five senses.
This painting, which had belonged to Count Charles de Perrégaux, was sold by his heirs, including his son Edouard who spent all his money supporting the beautiful Marie Duplesssis. We can suppose that the proceeds of the sale enabled him to buy camellias as a gift for the famous courtesan. The two lovers served as models for Alexandre Dumas fils’ heroes Armand Duval and Marguerite Gautier in his novel The Lady of the Camellias.
M. A. P.