Moralizing Scene with an Old Woman and a Man
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Adriaen van de Venne
Dutch, 1631
Oil on paper
6 9/16 x 4 1/2 in.

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A bent, old woman carrying a cat leans forward to take a quick puff on the clay pipe offered to her by a bearded man. The man's belly protrudes into the center of the scene, almost touching the woman's hand. Bagpipes, often used to symbolize sexual prowess, hang from his belt. In the background, a boy pats a dog while an older man taps on the old woman's shoulder. The single flame of a lamp and a crescent moon that peeps out from behind the clouds are the only sources of illumination in this night scene. Adriaen van de Venne used sharp contrasts in lighting to emphasize the deep creases in the bearded man's face, his grubby hands, and the coarse wool of the elderly woman's skirt.