17th C, Portrait attributed to Nicolas Maes


  • £50,297
  • €58,500 Euro
  • $61,095 US Dollar


DC Member since 2020
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17th C, Portrait attributed to Nicolas Maes

The 39-year-old gentleman had himself portrayed as an aristocrat in an idyllic landscape. At the time, parks and forests were environments associated with the lands and pastimes of the nobility. The sitter’s social position is also evident from his fashion-conscious look. He has put on a reddish-brown justacorps (a knee-length coat) with gold-coloured buttons. Under this vest, he seems to be wearing a simple white cravat. The blue sash with gold trim around the man’s waist can mark (high) military rank. This accessory was usually part of formal military attire.
In some cases, the sash could also indicate the membership of a militia guild (like the “Kolveniers”). The provenance of the portrait is difficult to trace. On an old photograph of one of the rooms of castle ‘Ter Meeren’ in Zaventem, the painting is visible. The estate had Auguste Braun, a lawyer at the Court of Cassation in Belgium. Did the portrait belong to Mr Braun’s family property, or did he purchase it? Would it be possible that the portrait was bought together with the castle owned by noble families for centuries? The gentleman’s long, curled locks fall on his red cloak. This is again another element that gives the portrayed a distinguished appearance. The slightly twisted pose of the sitter lends depth to the composition. His graceful posture – holding his right hand in his loin and letting his left armrest on a railing - clearly breaks with the stiff Dutch portraits of the first half of the 17th century. At the end of the 17th century, the atmosphere could be a bit more playful and frivolous. The style and painterly quality of the work indicate that Nicolaes Maes and his studio assistants painted the portrait. Although the master from Dordrecht painted portraits and genre scenes at the beginning of his career, he profiled himself comprehensively as a portrait painter from the late 1650s onwards.
From about 1670, Maes chose to portray his clients in an idealized environment with allures that referred to the upper class, as is the case for this gentleman’s portrait. When the artist settled in Amsterdam in 1673, his clientele expanded considerably. In addition to notables from Dordrecht and Utrecht, now also administrators of the VOC, naval officers, professors and theologians from Amsterdam and other cities knocked on his door to immortalize themselves on canvas. The increase in orders resulted in Maes’ atelier working very efficiently to meet the high demand. Customers could now choose a portrait type from several standardized examples of portrait formulas. In other words, they could select in advance a particular pose, specific gestures and backgrounds, and so on. The lively portrait of this elegant gentleman has a balanced composition and certainly appeals through the psychologisation of the sitter’s personality. Despite the excellent quality of the painting, there are several technical aspects that suggest that the portrait is mainly the result of studio work. Nicolaes Maes usually used smooth, powerful and broad brushstrokes that are less noticeable in this painting. The tactility of the depicted fabrics and the colour intensity that immediately catches the eye is entirely single-handed paintings by Maes, which are less prominent here. Cleaning the painting and a new layer of varnish can probably restore the painting to its original splendour.


17th Century

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For COLLECTIT! by SPECTANDUM owner Guy Kuypers, the history of his collecting began at the Porte de Clignancourt in Paris with a Napoleon III case filled with Exotic Birds. The colorful birds piqued my imagination and became the beginning of a passion for Natural History, Ethnography, European Works of Art, Antiquities and Curiosities that drive me on all continents, looking for fascinating and rare objects. Whether they are natural or man-made, all have an interesting story to tell.

So, it is finally in this spirit that the collection, which encompasses Natural History, Tribal Art, Paintings, Sculptures and Curiosities from many cultures and periods in history finds its rationale and its roots.

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