An old woman gazes ahead, shielding her eyes from the candlelight, while the boy behind her holds his candle, ready to be lit. The panel is painted in the style of Caravaggio, whose work Rubens had seen in Italy. This style is characterised by its exciting effects of light and unpolished naturalism.
Rubens did not make this painting to be sold; instead he retained possession of it. He probably used it as study material for the pupils in his studio.