In the 17th century oysters (traditionally a symbol of lust) were thought to be an aphrodisiac and the man's offer can be interpreted as a sexual advance. There are several discarded oyster shells scattered around the woman's chair, perhaps an allusion to her occupation as a prostitute. In the right background is an engraved view of Antwerp.

The picture was probably painted in the early 1660s. A signed variant is known (Oslo, Museum), and another is said to have existed.

Key facts

Artist dates
1626 - 1679
Full title
An Interior with a Man offering an Oyster to a Woman
Date made
probably 1660-5
Medium and support
Oil on oak
38.1 x 31.5 cm
Inscription summary
Acquisition credit
Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number
Location in Gallery