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Interior with a Dordrecht Family, 1656

Nicolaes Maes
Dutch, 1634-1693
Oil on canvas
44-1/4 x 47-5/8 in. (112.4 x 121.0 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1972.15.2.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on View

Born into an affluent family in the Dutch city of Dordrecht, Nicolaes Maes studied in Amsterdam with Rembrandt. Although he produced paintings of diverse subject matter during his career, Maes focused on scenes of domestic life and portraits of wealthy patrons. Here, he presents a sober depiction of an upper-middle-class family, statically posed and facing the viewer. The parents appear in finery befitting their station—the mother wears a black gown reserved for Sundays and holidays, and the father wears a white collar with tassels, particularly fashionable around 1655. The open window looking out on the ships passing through Dordrecht’s canal, as well as the Chinese porcelain on the shelf above the scene, suggest that this is a merchant family. The two older children hold a basket of fruit, symbolic of the fertility of the marriage.

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