Crash course

Genre paintings usually have a story to tell. But how to read them? Look out for these things.

1. The setting
What is the setting? In a home, a tavern or a farmhouse?

2. The outfits
What are the figures wearing? Are they expensively or shabbily dressed, respectable or a bit too risqué?

3. The objects
Do they have objects that tell us something about their character, profession or occupation?

4. The expressions
Study their expressions. Do they look happy, sad or questioning? And who is looking at whom? How are they interacting?

5. The hidden
Are there hidden messages? Some objects have more than one meaning. And a painting within a painting can also explain a great deal.