The old, miserly looking woman embodies the deadly sin of greed. She sits on a low stool amidst moneybags and pots of coins. Her homely spindle is discarded on the floor and the fire and lamp are extinguished. A snarling dog lies on an empty moneybag. The legal document hanging over the parapet suggests the hold the woman has over her debtors. A string of onions hangs on the wall-often a reference to old women as procurers of illicit love.
In 1793, this painting entitled Avarice was illustrated in a French book of engravings and ascribed to Rembrandt. Experts do not always agree on the authorship of a particular painting, and Allegory of Avarice is a good example. Following Rembrandt, a number of Dutch artists, most persuasively Paulus Bor, have been mentioned in association with this painting.
“Both dog and old woman are looking at you as if you are there. There are beautiful details in her face. Nice play with shadows and positioning of objects and subjects.” – anonymous
Keep an eye out every week for more visitor favorites. We will be highlighting each of the top fifty pieces during our 50th Anniversary year. If you want a more intimate encounter, stop by the museum and see these masterpieces for yourself!