This lively and mischievous composition has been attributed to Cornelis Massys, son of the renowned Antwerp painter Quentin Massys and brother of Jan Massys. Cornelis was mostly known for his graphic work, and indeed the present picture was likely inspired by a print after Massys engraved c. 1555 by Frans Huys, which is inscribed ‘MEESTER IAN SLECHT HOOT, WILT MIIN LVIITE VERSNAREN . ICK EN SAL VROV LANGNVESE, LAET MII ONGEQVELT . WANT ICK MOETSE, VOOR MODDER MVIILKEN BEWARDEN . DIE HADDE HAER LVIITE, OOCK SEER GEERNE GESTELT’. Another painted version of the composition is published in M. Friedlander, Early Netherlandish Painting, Leiden, 1976, XIII, no. 55, pl. 28. Like much of Cornelis’ work, the present scene illustrates a Dutch proverb, which is explicated in the text above the mantelpiece. Though listed by Friedlander as ‘The Jealous Wife’, the subject may be slightly more complex: the woman extending her lute at center appears to be requesting that it be strung by the seated lute-mender before her, while a woman behind at left (possibly his wife), implores him to give preference to the lady entering through the doorway at right with her child, who the inscription refers to as the 'modder muilken'. As the Dutch word 'moddermuilen' refers to kissing, and 'stringing the lute' ('miin luiite versnaren') would have been understood as a euphemism for intercourse, we can be sure there is a playfully erotic subtext to the composition.