Hieronymus Francken the Younger

Antwerp 1578 – Antwerp 1623

The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13)

Oil on Panel
H. 56 cm. W. 73 cm.


Private collection, France

Koester, O. (2000). Flemish paintings: 1600 – 1800. Copenhagen, p. 111-112, p. 319 ill. 54
Guy Shipton, G. (2022). Keyboard Instruments. Virginals, Harpsichords and Organs in Paintings of the 16th and 17th Centuries. p. 50, ill. 3


The parable of the Wise and the Foolish Virgins as recorded in Matthew 25:1-13 tells us to being vigilant because we don’t know when Christ will return. This passage from the Bible describes ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them, while the wise ones took oil in jars along with their lamps. When the bridegroom came, those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. In the present picture the lesson of Christ is symbolised by the contrast between the merrymaking and the virtuous virgins, whereby the dancing ladies were seen as indecent. On the wall are all kinds of paintings that support the admonition to these ladies, such as The Adultery of Zeus. In the background we see the wise virgins praying and working diligently nad surrounded by religious imagery. The present picture, of which several variants are known, can be attributed to Hieronymus Francken II. The best-known variant is kept in the collection of the Statens Museum in Copenhagen (inv. nr. Kms3013). The Italian inscriptions of the present picture are of a later date. In 1674, someone in Venice explained the painting by writing texts on it.