Self-portrait at the Age of Twenty-two
The son of a silk merchant in Dordrecht, Maes followed in the footsteps of several of his fellow townsmen by seeking instruction from Rembrandt. In the Amsterdam studio, he acquired the combination of painterly handling, broad forms and monumental composition that constituted the master’s manner during these years. Maes’s earliest dated paintings are from 1653, by which time he was probably back in his native city. The present picture is dated 1656, when Maes was still painting in a style indebted to Rembrandt. The warm palette, loose handling and solid presentation of the figure all point to the influence of Rembrandt’s style of the early 1650s. This work does not provide any specific indications of profession or social position. The sitter wears a white shirt with a frilled neckline, covered by a garment of heavy, rough cloth. The latter lacks functionality and appears to be part of a fantasy costume, placing this depiction partially in the category of the tronie. By incorporating his own likeness into such an anonymous study, the artist was following his master’s application of the self-portrait, and like Rembrandt, Maes displayed a refined level of human characterization.