The elderly man with his robes reminds me of the men disfigured by too much whisky. It’s an image that brings to mind the priestly class’s sexual depravities, hidden by the Papal religious system (exposed occasionally). The man looks rather enigmatic with the child having a despondent face drooping with a prematurely mature demeanour. Perhaps the child’s trust has been betrayed by the man, an abuse has been perpetrated and he is somewhat confused. The child looks rather resigned as one who cannot escape. It reminds me of Genesis 8:21. The child perhaps recognises his own wickedness, the corruption he has witnessed and is looking at the man thinking, “is that my destiny?” The artificial landscape through the window, surrounded by dreary walls adds to the sad nature of the picture. This depiction by Italian artist Ghirlandaio, provides an opportunity to meditate on the depravity of the human heart and see the only hope being Jesus Christ, it allows the opportunity to consider the gospel for all generations. Reflect on generations passing iniquities from one to another, and the desperate need for rescue from our sinful, sick and wicked natures.
Wikipedia says we do not know who the original sitters are and offered this opinion from the critics:
An Old Man and his Grandson is a ca. 1490 tempera painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Domenico Ghirlandaio. One of Ghirlandaio’s best-known works, it is considered notable for its emotional poignancy. Its realism has been described as unique among the portraits of the Quattrocento.