Bagpiper and Old Woman, circa 1550

Jan van Hemessen (attrib. to) Flemish, 1519 - 1566

"There is another version in the monastery of Gottweig, Austria. An almost identical painting is by Pieter Huys: a) in Berlin, b) in Dusseldorf. The piper has been copied for another and different painting c) by Frans Franck at Herentals, Belgium, St. Waldetrudis.

The theme of the paintings by Hemessen and Huys (Huys in Berlin has 4 lines of text on his painting) is an erotical allusion: in iconography the bagpipe also stands for the male genital, whereas the jug stands for the female genital. A broken or damaged jug stands for lost virginity. An open jug (here indicated by the standing aside of the metal cap) stands for desire for sexual intercourse, additionally made clear by the woman's grabbing the 'pipes'.

On Huys' painting in Berlin the man's empty purse is held by the woman. The dutch text reads (in free translation): "Oh, stop it, let me go, it is all in vain. You have taken hold of my purse and emptied it and ruined my pipe" (Poor boy! poor "pipe"!) Most likely a brothel scene."

Thanks to Ernst Schmidt for the great info again.