Nicolaes Maes was born in 1634 in Dordrecht. He worked in Rembrandt’s Amsterdam workshop after he had had professional training with an unknown painter in Dordrecht. His earliest works are religious scenes with something of Rembrandt’s spiritual emotion. But this was not the type of painting most natural to Maes and his own temperament led him to look for his own way in painting.
After a short stay in Delft, Maes returned to his native town in 1653. Based on the knowledge of Rembrandt’s and Delft’s schools, Maes started to specialize in depiction of interiors. Very soon he chose his subjects and found his own palette. Genre scenes: in the kitchen, the nursery, the backyard fascinated him. During his stay in Dordrecht (1654-1659) he painted his best genre pictures. A typical painting of the period is Naughty Little Drum-Player: in the mirror on the wall the artist himself is reflected. Some art historians consider that this painting is a group portrait of the artist’s family. The young mother then is Adriana Brouwers, widow of the priest Arnoldus de Gelder. Maes married her in 1654. The little drum-player, Ustus, son of Adriana and Arnoldus, nearly woke up his little sister Ioganna, daughter of the artist. After 1659, Maes worked on portraits more and more. In 1673, he moved to Amsterdam, where he died in 1673.
Maes was a very prolific and successful painter, and he is a bright representative of Holland’s Baroque.
c.1656-57. Oil on canvas. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano-Castagnola, Switzerland.