Page images
[graphic][merged small]


By Nicolaes Maes

Nicolaes Maes was a pupil of Rembrandt whose studio he entered about 1650. His best work, painted before he reached middle age, shows the impress of Rembrandt's manner at the time Maes fell under his influence. Rembrandt's Portrait of Titus of this collection, painted in 1655, gives the approximate style which Maes imitated. Genre subjects such as the Altman picture are conceived in the style of his master's biblical subjects of this epoch. The handling, color, and concentrated sunlight all come directly out of Rembrandt, but the motive is his own and has the simplicity and directness which he preferred.

Against a plain wall, from which a lamp is hanging, sits a homely young woman intent on her work. On a table beside her, covered with a carpet, is a basket of apples, and on the floor is a bucket for the peelings. The scene is lighted by a bright ray of sunlight. It is a study from some member of his household probably. There is a charm and a contentment that never wear out about these simple paintings without any labored composition or underlying idea.

The work was in England in the early part of the last century. It was in the collection of Ralph Bernal in the twenties, where it was seen by Smith and described in his Catalogue Raisonn6. Mr. Altman acquired it from the Rodolphe Kann Collection, which was dispersed in 1907.


By Rembrandt

This portrait is a dated picture of 1660 when, though he appears older, he was but fifty-four. More than fifty of these self-portraits by Rembrandt have come down to us and in this series the evolution of his genius and the development of his personality may be clearly traced. At first they are experiments in light and shade or in the study of assumed expressions, or are incited by his love for fantastic costumes. As time goes on, they become more and more profound in psychological expression, several of these late works being masterpieces of portraiture. "Mirror pictures, as we know," says Dr. Valentiner, "usually hide under a forced expression that veritable self which drops the veil only when it is unobserved." Perhaps there is a wilful assumption of expression in some of these portraits, but it is so sustained throughout and so convincing a record of the thought of the moment that it ceases to be affectation. Those who happen to be familiar with the self-portrait of a year or so earlier, belonging to Henry C. Frick, which had the place of honor in the Hudson-Fulton Exhibition, will find a comparison of the moods of that picture and our work an interesting one. In the portrait owned by Mr. Frick, though it was also painted in a troubled time, he paints himself as though he were a philosopher or prophet to whom all things but his own thoughts are indifferent. In the Altman picture he is prematurely aged by his troubles and is pestered with worries, "the little cares and anxieties of daily life." His forehead is wrinkled and the mouth is drawn, but the cap is tilted a little jauntily on one side and the head is erect and proud.

The painting was owned in France in the eighteenth century, being in the collection of the Due de Valentinois. It appears in England in 1826, when it was noted by Smith in his Catalogue Raisonne as belonging to Lord Radstock. Its owner before its purchase by Mr. Altman was Lord Ashburton.


By Gerard Dou

Dou studied under Rembrandt at an early time, quitting him in 1630, and like Maes was influenced by the quality of the work his master was producing at the time. With Dou this influence persisted throughout his whole life. He developed in the matter of elaboration, the crowding of detail, and a certain effort after picturesqueness. A favorite

« PreviousContinue »