Skip to main content
Why can't I download this image?

The National Gallery has endeavoured to make as many images of the collection as possible available for non-commercial use. However, an image of this painting is not available to download. This may be due to third party copyright restrictions.

If you require a license for commercial use of this image, please use the National Gallery Company's Online Picture Library or contact them using the following:

The Four Ages of Man


Lancret treats the traditional subject of The Four Ages of Man as a series of contemporary genre scenes – Childhood, Adolescence, Youth and Old Age.

In Childhood (L'Enfance), a group of wealthy children play boisterous games in an open-air loggia watched by their nurse and governess. In Adolescence (L’Adolescence), a young woman admires herself in a mirror while her hair is decorated with ribbons and flowers. Instead of depicting the third age as a time of maturity and showing a middle-aged married couple, Lancret paints several pairs of lovers in a woody glade, and entitles the picture Youth (La Jeunesse). In Old Age (La Vieillesse), he dispenses with the usual depiction of old people warming themselves indoors before an open fire to take the scene outdoors.

The set was engraved in reverse by Nicolas de Larmessin III in 1735. Most of the numerous painted copies were copied from the prints and are also shown in reverse.