Nicolaes Maes - Rembrandt's versatile pupil

Maes Luistervink

October 17, 2019 - January 19, 2020 - We concluded the Rembrandt & the Golden Age year with the first international retrospective exhibition about one of Rembrandt's most talented students: Nicolaes Maes.

Rembrandt's pupil Nicolaes Maes is one of the most beloved masters of Dutch 17th-century painting. He started his career painting Biblical stories, in which the influence of his teacher Rembrandt is clearly visible. His original representations of everyday life were a great source of inspiration for painters such as Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer.

Source of inspiration for De Hooch and Vermeer

With his original representations of everyday life, Nicolaes Maes was one of the most innovative painters of the Dutch Golden Age. His domestic scenes have been a source of inspiration for painters such as Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer. In his lifelike representation of emotions, Maes shows himself to be a fully-fledged student of Rembrandt.

Nicolaes Maes The Old Lacemaker 1655 Mauritshuis
Nicolaes Maes, The Old Lacemaker, c. 1655. Mauritshuis

Rembrandt's influence

Maes began his career by painting Biblical stories, in which the influence of his teacher is clearly visible. Rembrandt was a dedicated teacher who challenged his pupils to be inventive and come up with new things. Maes was inspired by his teacher, but at the same time always looked for his own, new solutions. This can be clearly seen in The sacrifice of Isaac(c. 1653). Maes gave this Biblical theme an explosive charge.



In the following years, Maes painted intimate scenes with women engaged in their household duties. The eavesdroppers are a favourite; representations of how the lady of the house catches her maid with a lover. Roguishly and conspiratorially, the woman looks at us; with her finger on her lips she draws the attention of the viewer and calls for silence. Some beautiful 'eavesdroppers' will be on loan from the Dordrechts Museum, the Guildhall Art Gallery and the Wellington Museum (both London).

Nicolaes Maes De Luistervink 1656 Wellington Museum Apsley House Londen
Nicolaes Maes, The Eavesdropper, c. 1656. Wellington Museum, Apsley House, Londen

The big success

Maes achieved his greatest success, artistically and financially, during his life as a portrait painter. His clients are dressed luxuriously, or even represented in fantasy costumes, and are placed standing in park-like landscapes with antique structures and fountains. The portraits of a girl with deer and her brother as a hunter (1671) shine for their colour and elegance.


The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalog in Dutch and English. This is available in the Mauritshuis store and in our webshop.

Made possible by

This exhibition is organised by the Mauritshuis, The Hague and the National Gallery, London and will be on view at the National Gallery from 22 February through 31 May 2020.

This exhibition is realised in part due to the generous support of the Friends of the Mauritshuis Foundation, Nationale-Nederlanden, part of NN Group, the Dutch Masters Foundation and the Prins Bernhard Culture Fund.