Nicolaes Maes was born to a wealthy merchant family in Dordrecht. After some local art training, he went to Amsterdam, where he joined the studio of Rembrandt. Maes moved back to Dordrecht and remained there until 1673, when he returned to Amsterdam. He produced several portraits of leading social, political and intellectual figures. His later portraiture was influenced by Flemish painting, most obviously Van Dyck, as interpreted by such Dutch followers. Maes may have visited Antwerp, where he could have studied the works of Rubens and Van Dyck, as well as encountered Jordaens. The subject of this portrait is Paulus van Esch, the husband of Elizabeth Schoorman, whose own portrait, the pendant to ours, has been lost.