photo credit: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery
Although mostly known for still life paintings, Tommaso Salini (1575–1625) did produce several genre scenes: that linked below has elements similar to the Warrington picture.
The subject here is also intriguing and maybe someone would be able to pin it down.
The collection notes: ‘We have no information about this painting, which may even have been acquired to demonstrate conservation techniques. Previous commentators have suggested a nineteenth-century date so if this work is by Tommaso Salini or his circle that would push the date back considerably.
We agree that the frightened child figure does resemble the figure in “The Monkey and the Cat”.’
Interestingly Valmouth @rfirbanksy on Twitter had associated this painting with Salini in 2017 : https://twitter.com/hashtag/salini
The link to Tommaso Salini, or at least to paintings associated with him, is clear - well done Al Brown. A quick delve online reveals that Salini is a somewhat mysterious figure. Paintings of several genres are associated with this contemporary of Caravaggio: still lives, genre subjects and religious paintings.There is much debate as to which are by Salini himself. A related artist, the so-called 'Pseudo-Salini', has been created to cover some paintings, such as that referred to by Al Brown, see http://www.artnet.com/artists/pseudo-salini/ .
The genre paintings by Salini and/or Pseudo-Salini are, to me at least, characterised by the active role that animals play in the scene: they are participants, actors, in the events portrayed. Warrington's painting is certainly one of this type. The deer may have frightened the boy and caused him to drop his basket, and is being restrained by the girl. I don't think this is an Aesop story; it may not have a specific literary source.
For those with good Italian, there is a lengthy entry on Salini in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 89 (2017)
Victoria Markova seems to be the art historian most qualified to help us if she can be tracked down.
The Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani goes so far as to say “An objective examination of the painter's corpus must … forget the incredible number of paintings that have been attributed [to him] during more than half a century of critical studies, completely altering the appearance and giving rise to a catalogue that has lost sight of the few true works by Tommaso reaching us. In fact, all the paintings attributed to Salini depicting shepherds with animals, peasants, children's games, [and] many others on the antique market and in auction catalogs […], will be assigned to a series of anonymous masters …”