Interior with a Dordrecht Family

Nicolaes Maes (Dutch, 1634-1693)
Oil on canvas 
44-1/4 x 47-5/8 in. (112.4 x 121.0 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
On View

One of the most talented students of Rembrandt, Nicolaes Maes worked in his native city of Dordrecht and in Amsterdam. Maes specialized in domestic scenes and portraiture, both of which provide valuable information about how the Dutch pictured themselves. Viewing this elegantly orchestrated composition, where each figure is linked to another in pose or gesture, we can deduce associations that were meaningful to this family: The father’s gesture, with his right hand placed over his heart, declares his marital commitment. The seated mother holding the infant reminds us of her important maternal role. Maes tenderly captures the innocent attention of the two older children. The basket of fruit they both hold alludes to biblical references that characterize children as the fruits of marriage. Centered in the composition and visible through the open window, Dordrecht Cathedral symbolizes the family’s Protestant affiliation. Evidence of their affluence can be read in the fine if sober quality of their clothing and in the expensive Chinese porcelain arranged along the shelf at right.


Anonymous (Paris, Lebrun, 16 April 1811, lot 78 for 300 frs to);
[Royer, Paris].
(sale, "A late distinguished marshal of France," London, Stanley, 11 June 1816, no 28).
Lord Carbery, Laxton Hall, Northhamptonshire by 1824, by inheritance to;
Mary, Lady Carbery, Castle Freke, County Cork, Ireland (London, 4 March 1921, no. 29, to Taylor for ,3,000 [bought in]); by inheritance to;
Christopher Sandford, Eye Manor, Hertfordshire (Sotheby's, 5 July 1967, no. 35 for ,5,800 to).
D.H. Cevat.
William J. Middendorf, New York & The Hague.
[Edward Speelman Ltd., London];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

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