An elderly man in a subdued green velvet cloak trimmed in fur instructs a boy wearing a lavish Eastern costume. The artist presents a study in contrasts: the student's youthfulness, his smooth complexion, lavish garments, and quest for knowledge are balanced against the learned man's aged, weathered face as he imparts wisdom. A warm light that accentuates the tonal contrasts and rich textures of the velvet and satin fabrics bathes the two figures. Light catches and shimmers off the precious stones of the boy's gold jewelry. Fine, precise brushstrokes enhance the overall impression of softness.
The subjects are presented in the guise of historical personages, possibly portraying the youthful Old Testament prophet Samuel with his instructor Eli. The use of lavish costumes and light and dark contrasts reveal the influence of Rembrandt.