The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
A Woman at her Mirror
  • Gabriel Metsu (1629 - 1667)
  • A Woman at her Mirror
  • Netherlands
  • 1657 - c.1662
  • Painting
  • Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 19.2 x 16.6 cm
  • Signature: 'G Metsú', the 'GM' in monogram
  • P206
  • East Galleries II
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Metsu’s painting is one of the most beautiful interior scenes of its time. In 17th-century Dutch painting, the mirror traditionally symbolised vanity or human frailty. Here, the woman holds a double-sided ivory comb in her right hand. In contemporary emblematic literature, the comb served as a reminder of the dual nature of earthly goods, which could be employed for either virtue or vice. The picture may thus be read as an allegory of the dangers of concentrating too much on the physical and the need to pay attention to the inner spirit as well as to outward appearances.