(b. 1591, Coulommier-en-Brie, d. 1632, Roma)

The Four Ages of Man

Oil on canvas, 96 x 134 cm
National Gallery, London

As roguery became less modish Valentin invested his types with new allegorical meaning. In this painting his figures, isolated and turned inward, are seated around a table reminiscent of a wheel of fortune. The painting condenses the period's fascination with trickery and deceit into a single symbolic motif: the prominent trap that the child, standing so mournfully at the threshold of life, thrust towards the spectator.