Segments in this Video

"The Moneylender and His Wife" (01:53)


A European financial center, 16th century Antwerp attracted Renaissance artists. In 1514, Quentin Metsys completed a Flemish masterpiece. Background objects may suggest criticism of the lending occupation.

Cosmopolitan Antwerp (03:17)

View background and foreground objects in Metsys' "The Moneylender and His Wife. "Hear a description of the 16th century Flemish trading hub.

Metsys' Composition (03:26)

European explorers in the 16th century brought exotic items from the Americas and Asia, reflected in moneylender's foreign coins. Hear a discussion of the painting's use of geometry, juxtaposition of religious symbolism, worldly items, and painting technique.

Quentin Metsys (04:04)

An exhibition next to the Antwerp Cathedral helped the artist obtain commissions. Flemish painters excelled at portraits; learn about Metsys' religious works and contribution to genre scenes. Hear arguments for why "The Moneylender and His Wife" is not a commissioned portrait.

"The Procession to Cavalry" (03:37)

Humanist thinker Erasmus chronicled 16th century changes, advocated morality, and disagreed with fanaticism. The Spanish repression of iconoclasm triggered an 80 year war, depicted in Bruegel's painting "The Procession to Cavalry."

Frozen in Time (03:01)

"The Moneylender and His Wife" subjects wear antiquated costumes inspired by Jan Van Eyck's "Arnolfini Portrait." Gold coins and parchments suggest the bill of exchanges system—the forerunner of capitalism. The scales reflect the Day of Judgment.

Mirror Symbolism (03:09)

The moneylender's hands resemble Da Vinci's 1488 "The Lady with an Ermine." The convex mirror evokes Van Eyck's "Arnolfini Portrait;" possible interpretations of the figure include Zachariah and a self-portrait of Metsys.

Religious Allegory Theory (02:59)

Hear interpretations of Metsys' object placement in "The Moneylender and His Wife." A 1520 caricature of the work called "The Usurers" illustrates Metsys' call for a moral capitalism guided by spiritual values.

Credits: The Moneylender And His Wife (1514) by Quentin Metsys: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings (00:38)

Credits: The Moneylender And His Wife (1514) by Quentin Metsys: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings

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The Moneylender And His Wife (1514) by Quentin Metsys: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings

Part of the Series : Smart Secrets of Great Paintings
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $129.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $194.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $129.95



16th century Antwerp was rather like 1950s New York. The city of craftsmen and fishermen at the entrance to the North Sea became a leading finance hub, facilitated by European exploration and new trade routes. This work by Quentin Metsys is a subtle criticism of that world and its era, warning about the flow of money when it is detached from all forms of religious and moral considerations. This film examines the influences of Jan Van Eyck and Leonardo Da Vinci on the work; analyzes composition, painting technique, and object symbolism; and outlines events that would lead to the Dutch Revolt.

Length: 27 minutes

Item#: BVL94718

ISBN: 978-1-68272-093-6

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.