This painting is signed and dated on the stretcher at the back: P. NYS Fecit/ 1652. Recent cleaning has revealed a very finely-painted genre scene by an artist who travelled widely - he lost all his drawings in the Great Fire of London in 1666 - but whose paintings are extremely rare. The relative untidiness of the scene might suggest a certain moral disapproval - the footwarmer is worn through, embers smoulder on the floor, the child appears to be tearing pages from a book and mussel shells litter the floor. The cleaning has removed a (modern) discarded shoe in the left corner, and uncovered an original hobby-horse, symbol of childish folly, beneath. On the other hand, the old woman is spinning - often a symbol of industry. To Dutch 17th century eyes, ever alert to a finely-balanced moral, this woman's industry might be at the expense of the child's proper education.