A richly-dressed young woman sits, weeping.
She nurses a marotte or jester's bauble (the sceptre-like insignia of the medieval court jester), a symbolic inclusion perhaps, given an added dimension by the title which translates as 'the madness'.
X-rays of the painting show the artist originally painted the woman with a baby in her arms (notice the cradle in the top right-hand corner), was the child dead or dying ? Rapid overpainting has turned a sentimental composition into a far more enigmatic work.
They are formed by mounting a musical movement on a stick and covering with the fabric of a doll’s dress. When the stick is swung around, it activates the musical movement producing an attractive effect combined with the bells decorating the pointy ends of the gaudy dresses. Typically carried by a jester or harlequin, the miniature head will often reflect the costume of the jester who carries it.