Nicolaes Maes

(1634 - 1693)
Nicolaes Maes A Dutch Family Group Probably mid 1650s


Maes underwent some initial artistic training in his native Dordrecht. Aged about fifteen, he moved to Amsterdam and became a pupil of Rembrandt. By his early twenties, Maes had returned to Dordrecht to begin an independent career. Although he retained aspects of Rembrandt’s style, such as his strong chiaroscuro, Maes developed his own approach to painting that was more intimate and small scale. Throughout the 1650s, he made numerous small genre pictures showing domestic scenes. The illusion of depth that he created through his mastery of perspective subsequently influenced the likes of Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer. After 1660, Maes almost exclusively painted portraits. His palette gradually lightened and his compositions were strongly influenced by Van Dyck.

Glossary terms

  • A French term that denotes different types of paintings, such as landscape, portrait or still life. The phrase ‘genre painting’ is used specifically to describe works depicting everyday scenes.

  • Oil paint is a mixture of pigment particles suspended in a drying oil. When exposed to air, it slowly dries, forming a tough, coloured film. The slow drying property of the paint is advantageous to artists as it allows them to work up a painting gradually, making corrections as they go. Oil paint can also be thinned and blended with each other to create subtle variations of colour, light and shadow.