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A woman with smooth, pale skin and an elderly man with exaggerated features embrace and gaze into each other’s eyes while a person dressed in the orange costume of a fool lurks behind them to our left in this horizontal painting. All three people have white skin and are shown from the chest up behind a ledge or tabletop against a black background. The older man to our right wears a dark teal garment and a bright crimson head covering that drapes over both shoulders. Wrinkles and age spots cover his face, which is accentuated by a bulbous nose and a leering smile that exposes missing teeth. His arms reach out and encircle the woman to our left. Cradling the right side of her head with his right hand, his left arm reaches across to her upper body, his thumb visible at her breast. A blue and gold band holds the woman’s auburn hair back. A white shift peeks through the slashed sleeves of her emerald green, gold-trimmed gown. She reaches toward the elderly man with her right arm, her hand tenderly holding his chin. Her left arm reaches across her body under his arm and she holds a leather pouch, probably containing coins, in that hand. A man wearing an orange cap with asses’ ears, reaches for the pouch, eyes crossed and his tongue protruding from the side of his mouth. Playing cards and coins lie on a tabletop to our left.

Quentin Massys, Ill-Matched Lovers, c. 1520/1525, oil on panel, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1971.55.1

The Art of Looking

Quentin Massys, Ill-Matched Lovers

  • Friday, April 1, 2022
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Registration Required
  • Virtual Program

In the spirit of April Fools' Day, Quentin Massys's Ill-Matched Lovers is the inspiration for this interactive conversation. Join us and share your observations, interpretations, questions, and ideas, and build on your own first impressions to broaden your understanding of this work of art. This session lasts one hour and is completely interactive. 

National Gallery educators will facilitate the conversation to create an environment for shared learning. These conversations will encourage you to engage deeply with art, with others, and with the world around you as you hone skills in visual literacy and perspective-taking.

This program is free and open to the public and is designed for anyone interested in talking about art. No art or art history background is required. Ages 18 and over.

Due to the interactive nature of this program, sessions are not recorded.

Live Captions

Live captions (CART) are available in some breakout rooms for this program. Please contact [email protected] to request access or for more information.