With his sensuous depictions of beautiful women, Titian created numerous variations of a type of erotic painting that was very common in Venice. The so-called belle donne are idealised images that are generally laden with symbolic meaning. Here, the young woman represents the allegorical figure of Vanity. In the mirror she holds up to us, we see earthly riches – coins, jewels, pearls – but also, small and in the dark, an old woman with a distaff and a spindle, the traditional tools for spinning yarn: a mythological reference to the thread of life that can snap at any moment. The snuffed candle in the woman’s hand is also a reminder of transience. The golden coins and the luxurious brooch reflected in the mirror, however, are probably later additions by another painter intended to emphasise the message of the picture.