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Nicolaes Maes - Portraits of a couple

Nicolaes Maes - Portraits of a couple


Very fine and rare pair of Dutch 17th century old master portraits of a husband and wife attributed to Nicolaes Maes


These three-quarter length portraits depict a brunette beauty, seated in an elegant and mysterious park landscape with a fountain to the right. She is smiling coyly at the spectator and wearing a luxurious outfit embellished with a diamond brooches. Her opulent white silk gown and scarf are shimmering beautifully, she completed her outfit with a thick pearl necklace and earrings, which were a highly prized and cherished possession at the time. Her husband is standing to the right and wearing an outfit which echoes the one of his wife; he wears a white shirt with an opulent lace collar underneath a very expensive blue silk frock. The landscapes in the background seem to continue through the portraits, highlighting and emphasising the unity and romantic bond of the couple. This is a composition which can be found in a few portraits which Maes painted of married couples, however during the course of history several of those works got separated, were destroyed or got lost, so as a gallery we are really proud to be able to offer this rare surviving example and as romantic souls, we can't help but be touched that this pair remained together for almost 400 years. If that isn't a testament to lasting love. Another interesting feature is the size of our portraits ca. 70*58cm each, these are exactly the same dimensions as of other portraits by Maes and they are among the larger formats in his oeuvre, which are also rarer. 


The costumes and composition seen in  images 338 and 341 in the artists' catalogue raisonnée, show great similarities with our portraits, which allows us to date our paintings around 1687-1690.


Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693) was one of Rembrandt's most talented pupils. Around the tender age of 15 he left his native Dordrecht to move to Amsterdam to be apprenticed by the great Rembrandt. Until about 1660, Maes mainly painted genre scenes in the style of Rembrandt, with many light-dark contrasts and warm colours. After that, he switched to painting portrait paintings and started developing his own distinctive style; smoothly painted works in which he paid great attention to finely rendering all the details and in which he used bright colors. The combination of his talent and very well received style led to great successes. Maes became a much sought-after and very productive painter of the baroque state portrait. From 1653 to 1673 Maes moved back to Dordrecht and after which he returned for good to Amsterdam. Our painting was most likely created after his return to Amsterdam. 


The canvases each measure ca. 70 by 58 cms and with frame ca. 86 by 75 cms.

There appear to be remnants of a signature along the bottom of the portrait of the wife. 


Provenance: Private collection Belgium



Léon Krempel, Studien zu den datierten Gemälden des Nicolaes Maes, Berlin 2000

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