A young mother makes lace while the boy in a high chair entertains himself (the objects are probably a pacifier and a ball). A ceramic porringer has been put down on the floor, where the silver cup and rattle would have arrived spontaneously. A family man himself, Maes often treated the themes of motherhood and domestic virtue during the 1650s.
Sewing, spinning, and the more meticulous craft of lacemaking were appreciated during Maes's time as examples of diligence and feminine virtue. The theme of lacemaking flourished in genre paintings of the 1650s and 1660s, together with other images of conscientious housemaking; a fair number of lacemakers were depicted by Leiden artists such as Quirijn van Brekelenkam, Gabriël Metsu, Pieter van Slingelandt, and Adriaen van Gaesbeeck. But no Dutch artist returned to the subject as frequently as did Maes during the 1650s, both in paintings and in drawings. The rectilinear arrangement of this composition is typical of his domestic scenes dating from the period.
[2013; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed (on base of child's chair): N.MAES.
Hon. Henry Labouchere, later 1st Baron Taunton, Taunton, Somerset, and Stoke, near Windsor (by 1842–?d. 1869); ?his daughter, Hon. Mary Dorothy Labouchere, later Mrs. Edward James Stanley, Cross Hall, Lancashire (from 1869); [Scott & Fowles, New York, until 1916; sold for $25,000 to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1916–17; sold for $27,500 to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1917–d. 1931)
Manchester. Art Treasures Palace. "Art Treasures of the United Kingdom," May 5–October 17, 1857, no. 1050 (as "Lace-maker at Work, and Child at Play on a Little Stool," by Maes, lent by Rt. Hon. H. Labouchere).
New York. Lotos Club. "Loan Exhibition of XVIIth Century Paintings," February 1919, no. 13 (lent by Michael Friedsam).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.
Nantucket. Kenneth Taylor Galleries. "Realism," June 26–July 31, 1949, no catalogue?
Honolulu Academy of Arts. "Four Centuries of European Painting," December 8, 1949–January 29, 1950, no. 4.
Art Gallery of Toronto. "Fifty Paintings by Old Masters," April 21–May 21, 1950, no. 21.
Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum. "Life in Seventeenth Century Holland," November 21, 1950–January 14, 1951, no. 41.
Nashville. Fisk University. "[title not known]," April 20–August 15, 1951, no catalogue.
Atlanta University. "[title not known]," September 1, 1951–January 30, 1952, no catalogue.
New Orleans. Dillard University. "[title not known]," February 1–April 30, 1952, no catalogue.
New York. Hunter College. "Dutch Celebration," April 27–May 11, 1953, no catalogue?
Scottsdale. Arizona Art Association. "Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 22–March 21, 1954, no catalogue.
New Paltz, N.Y. State Teachers College. April 19–24, 1954, no catalogue?
Southampton, N.Y. Parrish Art Museum. "Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," July 22–August 18, 1954, not in catalogue.
Vancouver Art Gallery. "Rembrandt to Van Gogh," September 17–October 13, 1957, unnumbered cat. (fig. 11).
Newark Museum. "Art and Home: Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt," September 30, 2001–January 20, 2002, no. 49.
Denver Art Museum. "Art and Home: Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt," March 2–May 26, 2002, no. 49.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.
John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. Vol. 9, Supplement. London, 1842, p. 579, no. 13, as by Maes, in the collection of H. Labouchere.
[Gustav Friedrich] Waagen. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. London, 1854, vol. 2, p. 421, as in the Labouchere collection.
W. Burger [Théophile Thoré]. Trésors d'art exposés à Manchester en 1857. Paris, 1857, pp. 255–56 [reprinted as "Trésors d'art en Angleterre," Brussels, 1860, with same pagination].
W. Bürger [Théophile Thoré]. "Van der Meer de Delft (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts 21 (October 1866), p. 315, as in the Labouchere collection; lists it among works by Maes painted between 1654 and 1657 which resemble both Rembrandt and Vermeer.
G. H. Veth. "Aanteekeningen omtrent eenige Dordrechtsche Schilders." Oud-Holland 8 (1890), p. 141.
Alfred von Wurzbach. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon. Vol. 2, Vienna, 1910, p. 90.
C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Ed. Edward G. Hawke. Vol. 6, London, 1916, p. 496, no. 75.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 10, dates it about 1655; notes other versions of the subject by Maes.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, p. 344, fig. 611 (color), tentatively dates it to the early 1650s.
Werner Sumowski. Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler. Vol. 3, B. Keil–J. Ovens. Landau/Pfalz, 1983–[94?], pp. 1954, 1956–57, 2016, no. 1347, ill. p. 2073 (color), dates it about 1655; mentions a copy sold at Christie's, London, in 1983 [see Notes].
Barbara Burn. Metropolitan Children. New York, 1984, pp. 22–23, ill. (color).
Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 188.
Walter Liedtke. "Dutch Paintings in America: The Collectors and Their Ideals." Great Dutch Paintings from America. Exh. cat., Mauritshuis, The Hague. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1990, p. 52.
Walter Liedtke inRembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, "Paintings, Drawings, and Prints: Art-Historical Perspectives."New York, , p. 151, under no. 53, dates it 1655–56.
Wayne Franits. "Young Women Preferred White to Brown: Some Remarks on Nicolaes Maes and the Cultural Context of Late Seventeenth-Century Dutch Portraiture." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 46 (1995), p. 395, fig. 1, dates it about 1655.
Nanette Salomon. "Domesticating the Peasant Father: The Confluent Ideologies of Gender, Class, and Age in the Prints of Adriaen van Ostade." Images of Women in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art: Domesticity and the Representation of the Peasant. Ed. Patricia Phagan. Athens, Ga., 1996, p. 49, fig. 7 [reprinted in "Shifting Priorities: Gender and Genre in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting," Stanford, 2004, p. 97, fig. 81].
León Krempel. Studien zu den datierten Gemälden des Nicolaes Maes (1634–1693). Petersberg, Germany, 2000, pp. 27, 32–34, 61, 360, no. D29, fig. 41, dates it about 1656.
Mariët Westermann inArt & Home: Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt. Exh. cat., Newark Museum. Denver, 2001, pp. 67, 178, no. 49, fig. 97 (color) and ill. p. 178, dates it about 1656.
Elizabeth A. Pergam. "From Manchester to Manhattan: The Transatlantic Art Trade After 1857." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 87, no. 2 (2005), pp. 87, 89.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 38, 45, 68, 71, figs. 48 (Friedsam house photograph), 82 (color, MMA Vermeer gallery photograph).
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 430, 436, 439–41, 464, no. 110, colorpl. 110, vol. 2, p. 744.