Maes studied with Rembrandt and then returned to his native Dordrecht, where he painted portraits and the genre scenes for which he is most admired. In this quiet interior, a young woman (probably a maid) is surrounded by velvety shadows and warmed by sunlight, as if in divine approval of her contented work.
?Mrs. Thomas Gordon, Bully Hill, Rochester (until 1808; her sale, Christie's, London, April 1–2, 1808, no. 46, as "A Woman paring Apples," by D. [sic] Maes, for £13.13 to Bryan); ?[Michael Bryan, London, from 1808]; Dirk van Dijl, Amsterdam (until 1814; his sale, Vinkeles, Amsterdam, January 10ff., 1814, as by N. Maas, for fl. 160 to Gruyter); Willem Gruyter Senior (from 1814); Ralph Bernal, London (until 1824; his sale, Christie's, London, May 8, 1824, no. 11, for £63 to Zachary); Michael Mucklow Zachary, London (1824–28; his sale, Phillips, London, May 31, 1828, no. 37, for £147 to Stafford); George Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Marquess of Stafford, later 1st Duke of Sutherland, Stafford House, London (1828–d. 1833); George Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Duke of Sutherland, Stafford House (1833–46; sold to Morant); George Morant (from 1846; sold to Emery, Rutley); [Emery, Rutley and Co., London; sold to Smith]; [John Smith, London; sold for £130 to Morland]; G. H. Morland, London (until 1863; his sale, Christie's, London, May 9, 1863, no. 101, for £173.5 to Woodin for Walter); John Walter, Bear Wood, Wokingham (1863–at least 1882); Rodolphe Kann, Paris (by 1900–d. 1905; his estate, 1905–7; cat., 1907, vol. 1, no. 54; sold to Duveen); [Duveen, Paris, London, and New York, 1907–8; sold for $80,355 to Altman]; Benjamin Altman, New York (1908–d. 1913)
London. British Institution. June 1838, no. 133 (lent by the Duke of Sutherland).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," January–March 1882, no. 103 (lent by J. Walter).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 10, 1995–January 7, 1996, no. 53.
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.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Vermeer's Masterpiece 'The Milkmaid'," September 9–November 29, 2009, no. 3.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. Vol. 4, London, 1833, p. 246, no. 11.
[Gustav Friedrich] Waagen. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. London, 1854, vol. 2, p. 70.
Wilhelm [von] Bode. Gemäldesammlung des Herrn Rudolf Kann in Paris. Vienna, 1900, p. III, pl. 12.
Wilhelm [von] Bode. Gemälde-Sammlung des Herrn Rudolf Kann in Paris. Vienna, 1900, pp. IX–X, ill. p. XIII (gallery photograph).
Max J. Friedländer. "Mr. Rudolf Kann's Picture Gallery in Paris." Art-Journal, n.s., (1901), p. 156, ill. p. 153.
Auguste Marguillier. "La collection de M. Rodolphe Kann." Les arts 2 (February 1903), p. 24.
Catalogue of the Rodolphe Kann Collection: Pictures. Paris, 1907, vol. 1, pp. V, 55, no. 54, ill. between pp. 54 and 55.
Connoisseur 19 (October 1907), p. 124, ill. p. 68.
Marcel Nicolle. "La Collection Rodolphe Kann." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 23 (January–June 1908), p. 197.
Alfred von Wurzbach. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon. Vol. 3, Vienna, 1911, p. 112.
Handbook of the Benjamin Altman Collection. New York, 1914, pp. 25–26, no. 16, ill. opp. p. 24.
"The Altman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum, New York." Art and Progress 6 (January 1915), p. 86, ill. p. 85.
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, pp. 485–86, no. 33, gives provenance information.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Nicolaes Maes. Stuttgart, 1924, p. 11, pl. 28.
Handbook of the Benjamin Altman Collection. 2nd ed. New York, 1928, pp. 92–93, no. 51, ill. opp. p. 92.
Alan Burroughs. Art Criticism from a Laboratory. Boston, 1938, p. 105 n. 6.
Jakob Rosenberg. Rembrandt. Cambridge, Mass., 1948, vol. 1, p. 196; vol. 2, pl. 262.
Francis Haskell. "The Benjamin Altman Bequest." Metropolitan Museum Journal 3 (1970), p. 279.
Keith Roberts. "Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions." Burlington Magazine 119 (December 1977), p. 874, states that the same model appears in Maes's "Woman Scraping Parsnips" (National Gallery, London), dated 1655, and his "Girl Looking at a Song(?) Book" (fig. 74; on exhibition at Ronald Cook, London).
Werner Sumowski. Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler. Vol. 3, B. Keil–J. Ovens. Landau/Pfalz, 1983–[94?], p. 2014, no. 1340, ill. p. 2066, dates it about 1655.
Werner Sumowski. Drawings of the Rembrandt School. Vol. 8, New York, 1984, p. 4186, under no. 1871x.
Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 188.
Julia Lloyd Williams. Dutch Art and Scotland: A Reflection of Taste. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland. [Edinburgh], 1992, p. 176.
Sylvia Jäkel-Scheglmann. Zum Lobe der Frauen: Untersuchungen zum Bild der Frau in der niederländischen Genremalerei des 17. Jahrhunderts. Munich, 1994, p. 74, fig. 68.
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, , pp. 6, 151, no. 53, ill., dates it about 1655.
León Krempel. Studien zu den datierten Gemälden des Nicolaes Maes (1634–1693). Petersberg, Germany, 2000, pp. 27, 32–33, 66, 359–60, no. D28, fig. 47, dates it about 1657.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), p. 32, fig. 33 (color).
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 436–39, 462, no. 109, colorpl. 109; vol. 2, p. 744.
Walter Liedtke. "The Milkmaid" by Johannes Vermeer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, pp. 20, 27–28, 30, no. 3, colorpl. 3.
Karen Rosenberg. "A Humble Domestic Crosses the Sea." New York Times (September 11, 2009), p. C29.
Adriaan E. Waiboer inVermeer et les maîtres de la peinture de genre. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2017, p. 351, fig. 117 (color).
This picture is included in a painting (private collection) of about 1824 commissioned by Sir John Murray from Pieter Christoffel Wonder (Dutch, 1780–1852), showing an imaginary gallery hung with some of the most famous pictures in English private collections of the time. Four studies for the painting are in the National Portrait Gallery, London.