DYCK, Sir Anthony van
(b. 1599, Antwerpen, d. 1641, London)
The Four Ages of Man1625-27
Oil on canvas, 116 x 168 cm
Museo Civico, Vicenza
The subject of the painting is easily recognisable: the sleeping child symbolises infancy, whereas maturity and youth are represented by a vigorous man in armour and by a young woman looking towards him, seductively offering roses; the bent white-haired man behind them symbolises old age.
However it is also possible to interpret the painting in a mythological key, seeing the two young people as the lovers Mars and Venus, the child as a sleeping Cupid, while the old man with his gloomy, severe expression could allude to Vulcan, betrayed by his young wife.