The Unequal Couple
Lucas Cranach the Elder’s painting The Unequal Couple (Old Man in Love) illustrates exchange in the marriage market. An unusually looks-challenged old man, holding a gorgeous necklace, embraces a beautiful young woman, who seems pleased with the arrangement.
Nearly 500 years ago, Cranach recognized that in the marriage market men typically exchange their earning ability for a woman’s looks and reproductive ability. That is probably less true today than in Cranach’s time (early 16thcentury), but the evidence shows it is still partly valid.