A group of wealthy Venetians sits in the portico of a country house. Two of them play instruments while a young African page holds their music book. They ignore the beggar who holds out his hand for alms, his sores licked by a dog. The painting is disfigured by ingrained dirt, making it difficult to see the details in the background.
The subject is a parable told by Jesus: the rich Dives gives a feast, ignoring the poor beggar Lazarus covered with sores at his gate. Later Lazarus feasts in paradise while Dives goes to hell (Luke 16: 19).
This work has been considered to be a compositional sketch for Bonifazio’s large picture of the same subject painted around 1540 for the Giustiniani family, and now in the Accademia, Venice. However it is more likely that it is derived from that work, which was very famous.
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