With loans from museums and private collections worldwide, Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age will include over thirty-five paintings and drawings by the Dordrecht-born artist who was one of Rembrandt’s most important pupils.
At the heart of the exhibition will be a selection of the intimate scenes of daily life in domestic interiors for which Maes is best known. He was a pioneer of the theme of the eavesdropper; his carefully styled narratives often break the fourth wall, making the viewer a participant in the scene, as characters (often a maid) eavesdrop or point to illicit goings-on.
Also on display will be domestic scenes that are accompanied by an unmistakable, if light-hearted, moral tone showing women spinning, making lace, preparing a meal, or devoutly reading the Bible.
The exhibition starts with the early history scenes Maes painted, mostly on biblical subjects, in the style of Rembrandt when he joined his studio in Amsterdam in about 1650.
Finally, the exhibition will focus on the period from 1673 when Maes settled in Amsterdam and abandoned domestic genre scenes to devote himself almost exclusively to portraits. A group of these lesser-known works will show how he brought a Van Dyckian elegance and swagger to the portraits.
The exhibition is co-organized by the National Gallery in London and the Mauritshuis in The Hague.
[From the museum’s press release, 15 May 2019]