Nicolaes Maes - The Eavesdropper

bethechangecpd.comNicolaes Maes, 'The Eavesdropper', about 1656. The Wellington Collection, Apsley House [English Heritage] © Historic England Photo Library.

Nicolaes Maes at the National Gallery

The National Gallery presents the first-ever monographic exhibition devoted to Nicolaes Maes (1634 – 1693), one of the most successful artists and astute businessmen of the period. 22 February – 31 May 2020.

Source: National Gallery, London

The exhibition brings together 48 works, comprising paintings and drawings, from a range of private and public collections. Across three rooms that reflect three distinct periods in the artist’s career, visitors see how Maes started out as a painter of historical and biblical scenes but soon moved on to paintings of everyday life for which he is today best known, while during the last decades of his career he became one of the most sought-after portrait painters in 17th-century Holland.

Maes was one of Rembrandt’s most talented pupils and the influence the master exerted on the young artist is apparent in his early paintings of historical and biblical scenes, which are displayed in the first room. The ambitious and large-scale 'Christ Blessing the Children', part of the National Gallery’s permanent collection, displays the sophisticated lighting effect made famous by his teacher, and it may have even been painted while the artist was still in Rembrandt’s workshop or soon after he left it. The biblical stories continue with paintings such as the 'Adoration of the Shepherds' (The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles) and the 'Sacrifice of Isaac' (Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada), the latter a re-working of a painting of the same subject by Rembrandt picture but with one key difference – Maes depicts the dramatic moment just before the angel stops Abraham from sacrificing his own son. Despite Rembrandt’s clear influence, the beginnings of Maes’ own distinctive style is already on display in this early period.

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