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Nicolaes Maes

The Adoration of the Shepherds


Nicolaes Maes
Dordrecht 1634 – Amsterdam 1693


The Adoration of the Shepherds




Oil on wood


59.4 x 87 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1965.1520


Western Art

Only five religious paintings by Maes survive. This evocative Adoration is a masterful synthesis of compositional elements derived from his teacher, Rembrandt. In addition to the lantern and the candle, there is an extraordinary effect of light emanating from the Infant which attests to Utrecht’s Caravaggesque influence. Maes has also introduced inspired touches of his own, such as the cloud-covered moon seen through the open door and the focused gaze of the bespectacled shepherd on the Infant. Maes has built up layers of brown and black paint over a yellow ground to intensify the light and the colours of the figures caught in its glow. This painting belonged to Vivant Denon, first 'Director' of the Louvre and close relationship to Napoleon.

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