|'The subject of the 'Ill-matched pair' became an evergreen in the Cranach workshop; over forty versions are known. It is from an account from 1540 that we discover the contemporary title of these paintings: Cranach delivered two panels showing 'Bulschaften' (whoredom) to Torgau palace. The subject already existed in the 15th century and was above all popular in print; but the master from Wittenberg had evolved and improved it in a unique manner. Previously the description of this subject was limited to very obvious gestures: the old man fondles the young woman’s breasts or becomes resolute in other ways, while she helps herself to the contents of his purse. This standard formula was also used by Cranach; in addition he explored the options of the psychological depth of the subject and played through all its facets.|
The very young girl wearing a green velvet dress depicted on the panel in Düsseldorf fawns over the nearly toothless and almost bald old man fondling his beard, although her gestures and facial expression betray that no real enthusiasm occasioned this tenderness. Just as the thinning grey hair of the old man contrasts with her loose hip-length dark blond curls, so contrary is the reaction of the man to the cool emotions of the woman. With a lewd grin the old man stares at his prey, who he embraces around the waist with his left paw. However he is experienced enough to know that lacking appeal he must purchase the young girl’s love; therefore in the foreground he already holds a double fine linked gold chain, which is conspicuously shown to the viewer.’
[Brinkmann. Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2007, 308]
|'The girl in a green velvet dress; the old man who offers a chain and wears a fur-trimmed black cloak'|
'The motif of the 'old man with the young whore' or the 'old woman with the young lover' was derived by Cranach from the court painter Jacopo de' Barbari who preceded him (painting from 1503 in the Museum of Philadelphia, John G. Johnson Coll.; [Frimmel 1905, 56f.]: Before Cranach Barbari was in the service of the Saxon elector from 1503-1505, and how easy it would have been for Cranach 'who cast his eye south, even though his fortune held him in his motherland to be stimulated by the Italian master for his compositions of the old man in love. Did he not copy a figure of Christ after Jacopo de Barbari – No. 304'; [Burke 1936, 48, Fn. 31] or/and the type influenced by Leonardo (No. 464) and adopted albeit in a more complex and therefore not totally obvious type by Massys. [Friedländer 1929, 63]: 'as far as we can tell Massys was the first to develop this type in the Netherlands, probably inspired by a Leonardo caricature. Cranach may have been influenced by Massys.'; [on Massys: La Chronique des Arts, Nr. 1237, Febr. 1972, Fig. p. 80; see G. Marlier, Erasme et la peinture flamande de son temps, Brüssel 1954, 229, Fig. 39]. A depiction of an old man as lover being scoffed at by a jester in Wittenberg palace may be by Barbari, and is already recorded in a description from 1507 (213f.). In addition we must consider the pictorial tradition within German art (No. 465f., as well as Dürer's engraving B.93 and for example a drawing by Niklaus Manuel). The German humanist Jakob Locher Philomusus (see p. 145) wrote a 'drama de sene amatore' in the style of Plautus: his imitation of ancient Roman comedy corresponding with the (very subtle) italianate element in Cranach's work.
[Koepplin, Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974-1976, 567-568]