Parental Admonition is not unlike these, though the subject matter is significantly more interesting. The 28 by 24 inch painting depicts the back of a richly attired young maiden along with a matronly woman and a young soldier. The scene is a bed chamber, wherein lies the ambiguity. Is the woman her mother or her procuress? Is the soldier holding between his fingers a ring or a coin? Is he proposing marriage or prostitution? If marriage, then why is the scene set in a bedroom? If he is about to purchase her sexual services why does the matron seem so demure and discrete? The seventeenth century Dutch were strong on family values but also pragmatic enough to accept the need for brothels as well. The mystery lies in the fact that in the original 1655 painting the gentleman did, indeed, hold a coin, which was deftly altered to appear as a ring a hundred years later when the painting was given its current title, new theme, and sold at auction to a public appreciative of the positive moral message of parental guidance.
|Parental Admonition, 1654,|
Gerard ter Borch