The Four Ages of Man - Valentin de Boulogne - about 1629
National Gallery, London.
- Four figures sit around a small table – each supposedly represents a stage in life – Infancy, Youth, Manhood & Old Age.
- Infancy (centre foreground) holds an empty bird trap, perhaps symbolising hope.; but he doesn't look hopeful - not to me anyway.
- Youth (left) is playing a lute, which might represent amorous desires - but is there anything else?
- Manhood (right), in armour, is wearing a victor’s laurel wreath and holding a plan of a fortification; but why is he shown sleeping? Safe & Content? Battle weary? What do you think?
- Old Age (centre background) - tends to be associated with wisdom, but he is holding a flask and a glass (alcohol?), and has pile of coins, symbol of avarice, before him. But he doesn't look greedy - or drunk. Some say that the glass is symbolic of the fragility of life.
- I have my own ideas but I'd be interested in yours - write and let me know what you think.