This painting used to be known as The paternal admonition, but the observant viewer will see that this is not a father admonishing his daughter. The man, a soldier, is simply too young. The scene is in fact set in a brothel: the man is a customer, the elegant young lady is the prostitute, and the woman just taking a sip from her glass is the procuress. The bed in the background and the table with mirror likewise point in this direction. Gerard ter Borch rendered this delicate subject matter so subtly that some confusion originated about nature of the work.
From the collection of Willem Lormier (The Hague). Purchased in 1809, as part of the Van Heteren Gevers collection (The Hague).