Van Gogh •
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Nicolas Maes was born in Dordrecht. The son of a well-to-do soap manufacturer, Maes was also a painter of genre scenes and portraits.
At about the age of sixteen, he went to Amsterdam to study with Rembrandt, and he remained in the master's studio until about 1653. During this period, he developed a forceful style in which colors emerge out of a haze of rich darkness and light glows upon fabrics and objects. Composition is especially interesting in Maes' works from this period, for it is arranged to make the most of the effects of chiaroscuro lighting. One of his works, in fact, was one of the earliest to represent light coming from an inner room to illuminate a foreground subject. His themes were typically domestic household incidents, moments of rest from chores, or studies of older people.
Between 1660 and 1665, Maes was in Antwerp, where he was influenced by the loose brushwork of the Mannerist Jacob Jordaens. Upon his return to Dordrecht, he gave up genre paintings to produce large quantities of mannered and superficial portraits. Though these were quite fashionable, they are undoubtedly inferior in feeling and style to his earlier works. He remained in Dordrecht between 1666 and 1678, but he returned to Amsterdam, in 1678, where he stayed until his death.