This type of elegant interior with a group of well-dressed people enjoying themselves around a table is known as a 'merry company'. Such examples derive from representations of biblical subjects, for example, the Prodigal Son Feasting, and were often engraved with moralising verses which condemned foolish behaviour. In the left background is a map; on the wall to the right is a painting representing the Betrayal of Christ.
Dirck Hals was the brother of the famous Haarlem painter Frans Hals, whose work is also represented in the collection of the National Gallery. He used his brother’s broad technique on a smaller scale to paint these genre scenes that influenced many painters, in Haarlem and beyond.