2020 February opening National Gallery London: Nicolaes Maes

Longing for openings and usual suspects

At the moment the museums in both the Netherlands and Great Britain are closed. Openings of major exhibitions that I look forward to are being postponed, such as the Slavery exhibition in the Rijksmuseum and the Voices of Fashion exhibition in the Centraal Museum. In the past, I skipped quite a few openings, because I didn’t always feel like it. But now I have started to miss them and also the usual suspects. The last real opening I went to was, if I’m correct, a year ago. Not in the Netherlands but in London.
In February I visited in London. First to visit a good friend, art historian Elizabeth McGrath, and second to do a tour of exhibitions. Liz invited me to attend the opening of Nicolaes Maes at the National Gallery. on the Ground Floor Galleries. There were a few very nice works.

But as a whole the exhibition was rather conservative I thought then.

Below a number of works that struck me. And part of the exhibition organised by the National Gallery, London and the Mauritshuis, The Hague

Nicolaes Maes, Dutch Master of the Golden Age

Maes was born in Dordrecht in 1634. He moved to Amsterdam as a young man to study painting under Rembrandt, who attracted aspiring artists from all over the Dutch Republic. Some of Maes’s early paintings rely on his master’s example, but he quickly developed his own style, introducing lighter tonalities and choosing to depict different moments in a story to create his own version.

Maes went on to become one of the most inventive genre painters of his day. His experiments with interior space and the unusual intimacy of his domestic scenes influenced many of his contemporaries, including Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer.

While his masterly command of light and shadow stemmed from his apprenticeship with Rembrandt, his novel approach to genre painting was all his own.

Women – young and old, rich and poor – play the lead role in almost all of Maes’s genre scenes. Many of them perform ordinary tasks and household duties, reflecting contemporary perceptions and stereotypes of women in society and the domestic sphere. Some paintings seem to harbour a moralising message, but Maes often deploys humour to give them a light-hearted tone.

Shortly before 1660, Maes turned exclusively to portrait painting, devoting the rest of his long career to this highly profitable genre. The artist changed his style so radically that his late work has little in common with his genre paintings from the 1650s, let alone with the darker tonality of his earliest ‘Rembrandtesque’ works. The artist developed a more colourful and elegant portrait style, reflecting an international trend towards stylishness and refinement that derived from the work of Anthony van Dyck, as well as from French portraiture.

Standardised compositions, poses, costumes and accessories enabled Maes to increase his output and cope with high demand. As one of the most successful portrait artists of his time, Maes died a wealthy man, having painted an estimated 900 portraits.’ (National Gallery)

All photos on this site are not intended for any commercial purpose. I have tried to trace all the rules and rights of all images. As far as I know, these images can be used in this way. If you ar a copyright holder and would like a piece of your work removed or the creditline changed then please do not hesitate to contact me.

estherschreuderwebsite@gmail.com

About me

In 2008 I was guest curator of the exhibition Black is beautiful. Rubens to Dumas. Important advisors: Elizabeth McGrath (Rubens and colleagues, Warburg institute Image of the Black in Western Art collection), Carl Haarnack (slavery in books), Elmer Kolfin (slavery in prints and paintings) en Adi Martis (contemporary art). Gary Schwartz made his research for The Image of the Black in Western Art available to me.

Black beautiful Rubens to Dumas cover

In 2012 my Anniversary book: 100 years Schiller 1912-2012 was published. Initiative, idea, text and editing (ES). Design and photography Monica Schokkenbroek.

Schiller in Parool boekje 26-11-2012 Paul Arnoldussen
Schiller in Parool boekje 26-11-2012 Paul Arnoldussen

In 2013 my book Cobra aan de gracht / Cobra on the Canal was published by Samsara publications.

In 2014 my essay ‘Painted Blacks and Radical Imagery in the Netherlands (1900-1940)’ was published in The Image of the Black in Western Art Volume V (I). (ed. David Bindman, Henry Louis Gates jr.)

(About f.i. On the terras, by Nola Hatterman but also Jan Sluijters, Kees van Dongen, Irma Stern and more)

In 2017 I published a book about the black servants at the Court of the Royal Van Oranje family. More than a thousand documents have been found about their lives. (only in Dutch)

Cupido en Sideron Cover 30-8-2017

All photos on this site are not intended for any commercial purpose. I have tried to trace all the rules and rights of all images. As far as I know, these images can be used in this way. If you ar a copyright holder and would like a piece of your work removed or the creditline changed then please do not hesitate to contact me.

estherschreuderwebsite@gmail.com

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