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The story of Christ in the house of Martha and Mary is taken from the New Testament (Luke 10), and is seen here through an opening in the wall. When Martha complained to Christ that while Mary sat listening to him she was left to serve the meal alone, Christ replied: 'Mary has taken that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.' The foreground figures, in contemporary dress, may symbolise a latter-day Martha and Mary.

The composition is influenced by Flemish paintings and engravings which combine kitchen scenes with biblical subjects.

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