Flute playing shepherd and young woman spinning, after Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem.
Nicolaes Berchem (Dutch, 1620-1683), plate from one of his animal books similar to "Diversa Animalia Quaduredia". Engraving and etching on laid paper, print made by Johannes Visscher, published by Frederick De Wit (c. 1610-1698).
During the Renaissance and early modern periods, pastoral motifs (such as shepherds herding livestock) became quite popular, as they had been in antiquity. Pastoral images portray an idyllic fantasy of outdoor living, made to appeal to an urban audience far removed from the realities of agrarian life.
One popular pastoral theme was a shepherd playing a flute for a young woman, which could have erotic undertones. Here a young man serenades not only a maiden, but also a menagerie of animals.