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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Maes, Nicolaes


The Adoration of the Shepherds
c.1660
oil on canvas
120.7 x 95.9 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Nicolaes Maes almost exactly copied Albrecht Durer's 1504 engraving of the Nativity, in this painting. Maes simply widened the house to the left, provided new poses for the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, and added the four shepherds that give the painting its new subject.

Nicolaes Maes, also known as Nicolaes Maas (1634-1693) was a Dutch Golden Age painter of genre and portraits. He was the son of a prosperous merchant.

In about 1648 he became a pupil of Rembrandt in Amsterdam, staying there until 1654 when he returned to his native town Dordrecht. In his early years he concentrated on genre pictures, rather sentimental in approach, but distinguished by deep glowing colors he had learnt from his master. Old women sleeping, praying, or reading the Bible were subjects he particularly favoured. So closely did his style resemble that of Rembrandt, some paintings were ascribed to Rembrandt.

In the 1660s, however, Maes began to turn more to portraiture, and after a visit to Antwerp around the middle of the decade his style changed dramatically. He abandoned the reddish tone of his earlier manner for a wider, lighter and cooler range (grays and blacks in the shadows instead of brownish tones), and the fashionable portraits he now specialized in were closer to van Dyck than to Rembrandt. So great indeed was the change, that it gave rise to the theory of the existence of another Maes, of Brussels.
In 1673 he moved permanently to Amsterdam and had great success with this kind of picture. Maes was a fairly prolific painter.