About this artwork

This painting is typical of Maes’s small scale work of the mid-1650s. He posed this family group in an exterior setting, seated on a brick veranda with a vine climbing up the wall behind them. Although the child wears skirts, he is in fact a boy. Boys were only ‘breeched’ at age five or six. He holds a hobby horse, a typically ‘male’ toy. The dramatic lighting and colouring of the scene are indicative of Maes’s former training with Rembrandt. A false Rembrandt signature was removed from the picture when it was cleaned in 1952.

  • title: A Dutch Family Group
  • accession number: NG 1509
  • artist: Nicolaes MaesDutch (1634 - 1693)
  • gallery: Scottish National Gallery(On Display)
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Families
  • date created: Probably mid 1650s
  • measurements: Arched top: 50.50 x 38.00 cm
  • credit line: Bequest of Mrs Nisbet Hamilton Ogilvy of Biel 1921
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Nicolaes Maes

Nicolaes Maes

Maes underwent some initial artistic training in his native Dordrecht. Aged about fifteen, he moved to Amsterdam and became a pupil of Rembrandt. By his early twenties, Maes had returned to Dordrecht to begin an independent career. Although he retained aspects of Rembrandt’s style, such as his strong chiaroscuro, Maes developed his own approach to painting that was more intimate and small scale. Throughout the 1650s, he made numerous small genre pictures showing domestic scenes. The illusion of depth that he created through his mastery of perspective subsequently influenced the likes of Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer. After 1660, Maes almost exclusively painted portraits. His palette gradually lightened and his compositions were strongly influenced by Van Dyck.