A woman dressed in a blue jacket with fur trim stands alone before a table in a corner of a room. She holds a balance in her right hand and with lowered eyes waits for it to come to rest. Behind her, on the back wall of the room, is a large painting of The Last Judgment framed in black. On the side wall is a mirror. A blue cloth, some open boxes, two strands of pearls, and a gold chain lie on the table. A soft light, which passes through a window and its orange–yellow curtain, illuminates the scene. While the woman is psychologically removed from us, her graceful figure and serene face suggest an inner peace that one often experiences at unexpected and fleeting moments in one’s life.
Woman Holding a Balance is an allegorical scene that urges us to conduct our lives with temperance and moderation. The painting within the painting offers an important clue in that Christ’s Last Judgment is echoed by the woman’s own actions. Before her are earthly treasures; behind her is the symbol of the eternal consequences of her actions here on earth. In waiting for the balance to rest at equilibrium she acknowledges the importance of judgment in weighing her own actions in anticipation of the life to come.