The Moneychanger and his Wife1539. Oil on panel, 83 x 97 cm.
Seated at a table, the two characters count money with greedy expressions. The moneychanger wears bourgeois clothing, with fur cuffs and collar and a strange hat with a pendant. The woman wears a red suit and a white cap, in sixteenth-century Flemish style. The table has several gold and copper coins, an account book and a scale. A shelf in the background holds a candlestick and other papers. The composition is derived from a model painted by Quentin Massys, of which there are various examples. The best known of these is in the Louvre in Paris. Although the artist repeated this composition many times, this version from 1539 accentuates certain aspects, such as the tension created by the accumulation and disorder of the objects in the room. This is a way of censuring or criticizing the characters´ morally reprehensible activity. A very similar version by the same artist is in the Monastery of El Escorial, on loan from the Prado Museum (P02102)