Relatively little is known about this Utrecht painter and his artistic personality was obscure until Peter van den Brink and Marten Jan Bok made a reconstruction of his oeuvre in 1994 (see P. van den Brink & M.J. Bok, 'Aelbert Jansz. van der Schoor, een Utrechts schilder en zijn werk', Oud Holland, CVIII, 1994, II, pp. 37-55). Van der Schoor painted portraits, still-lifes and genre pieces as well as history subjects in a style much influenced by Abraham Bloemaert and Jan van Bijlert. The tentative attribution of the present work, once ascribed to Lender van der Cooghen, is supported by Fred G. Meijer of the RKD in The Hague.
This charming scene may allude to the risks of introducing children to a dissolute lifestyle at an early age: the boy appears to have stumbled upon a table, set with an array of objects ranging from the more intellectual and worldly – books, an inkwell and quill pen, and a beautiful globe – to the more profligate – a plate of crumbs left after a devoured meal, a glass of wine, and a pipe with tobacco. It is possible that the image alludes to the Dutch proverb, “As the old sing, so pipe the young”, which encouraged adults to teach youngsters by their own positive example. This young man's choice to drink and smoke, instead of to read and write, may suggest that his elders have not set a very healthy precedent for him to follow.