The subject of the Ill-matched Lovers was treated by both Lucas the Elder and the Younger on several occasions, and the theme may have originally derived from Quentin Massys. There are two types of the composition: in one, a wrinkled, toothless old man fondles a pretty young woman, who slyly reaches her hand into his purse. The present painting is after the second type, in which the roles are reversed, and an old woman pays a younger man for his attentions. In the present painting, for which there is no known prototype, the elegantly-dressed young man glances out knowingly at the viewer, suggesting our complicity in his deception. Such messages about the consequences of vice would have been immediately recognizable to a contemporary audience, from popular skits and poetry as well as moralizing books such as Sebastian Brandt's Ship of Fools and Erasmus' In Praise of Folly.