The rather unusual subject in this hitherto unknown version is based on a popular Netherlandish allegorical theme. The traveller personifies man's maturity journeying along the path of life. He is supported by Hope and Patience while Time increases the burden on his shoulders. The basket, the traveller's is carrying, symbolises life's hardships to which Time is adding. In the background are scenes representing birth and youth on the right and old age and death on the left.
The present composition follows the painting by De Backer in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg (see: Wallraf-Richartz Jahrbuch 35, 1975, pp. 249-50, and illustrated p. 253). Another version by Jacob de Backer was sold with Christie's, Amsterdam on 9 May 2007, lot 35 (oil on canvas, 144.5 x 189.5 x cm.). This subject has been repeated by later generations such as in Abraham Janssens' painting in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels.