We don't know who these people are, but they wear the restrained costume of prosperous, Protestant Dutch people in the 1660s. Either woman could be the man’s wife; it has also been suggested that the younger woman is a maid, or the couple’s daughter.
There may be some clues. The younger woman holds a rose, perhaps a symbol of love, and points out of the painting; she looks down with an intent expression. The man rests one hand on the globe, which is possibly a symbol of faith, and points at the fruit on the table with the other. The older woman holds a peach, perhaps symbolising truth.
For some reason, half a globe on half a plinth appears to cut off the composition in an odd and rather unsatisfactory way – perhaps there was once a companion piece that completes the story. In its absence, you are left to decide on an interpretation of the symbols and, from them, the painting’s meaning.
Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.
License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.
This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.
Examples of non-commercial use are:
The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.
As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.
You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.