A brothel scene, as implied by the discarded rapier, lute and dog in the foreground symbolising the disarming power of love and carnal desire. An elderly brothel keeper watches from a doorway as her girls flirt with the soldiers. The figures seated around the table make music together, a common euphemism for making love, and play cards and smoke, both considered vices at the time. A sense of collusion is established with the viewer through the direct, knowing gaze of the cavalier, sitting on the extreme right below the chimney breast, while a mirror on the background wall reminds the viewer to examine his own behaviour before judging others.
Where to see this painting?
The Wallace Collection
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