© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Maes studied with Rembrandt in Amsterdam during the late 1640s and early 1650s, and the broad, loose pen lines and rich, skillfully modulated washes of this work recall his teacher’s technique of that period. Many of Maes’s drawings relate to the innovative paintings of domestic life that he produced during the 1650s. The study exhibited here and a closely related sketch in the Wadsworth Atheneum’s collection may represent alternate ideas for a painting of a scholar at his desk, but no picture of this subject by Maes has come to light.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Nicolaes Maes, Dutch (Dordrecht 1634 - 1693 Amsterdam)
Man Seated in His Study; verso: Four Sketches of Eavesdropping Figures
Work Type
c. 1655-1657
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink and brown wash on cream antique laid paper, framing line in brown ink
19 x 17.4 cm (7 1/2 x 6 7/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: verso, center, graphite: Vn / JG [L. 1460d, associated with the Earl of Dalhousie]
  • watermark: House with a staff and serpent; related to Churchill 519 (n.d., House of Heusler, Basel)
  • collector's mark: lower right, black ink, stamp: L. 717a (Earl of Dalhousie)
  • inscription: verso, upper left, graphite: 32
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
Probably George Ramsay, 8th Earl of Dalhousie, by descent; to George Gilbert Ramsay, Dalhousie Castle, Midlothian, Scotland (Lugt 717a), sold; to [P. & D. Colnaghi, London, 1922]. [Paul Cassirer, Berlin]. Alfred Strölin, Lausanne, by 1924, sold; [through Bruno de Bayser, Paris]; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1977 (L. 3306, verso, lower center); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, 2016.318.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gift of George Abrams in honor of Anne Brooke and Peter Brooke (A.B. ’52, M.B.A. ’54) and in appreciation of their major gift of Dutch paintings to the Harvard Art Museums
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

William R. Valentiner, Nicolaes Maes, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (Stuttgart, Germany, 1924), p. 57, repr. p. 63, fig. 70

Wolfgang Stechow, Wilhelm R. Valentiner, Nicolaes Maes [review], Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen (Berlin, 1925), vol. 187, nos. 4-6, pp. 145-51, p. 146

Jakob Rosenberg, "The Problem of Quality in Old Master Drawings", Bulletin of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Department of Fine Arts of Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH, 1951), vol. VIII, no. 2, pp. 32-49, pp. 43-44, repr. p. 42, fig. 8b

Lawrence Gowing, Vermeer, Faber & Faber (London) (London, 1952), p. 151 (n. 127), repr. p. 150, fig. 35

H. van de Waal, "Rembrandt's Faust Etching, a Socinian document, and the iconography of the inspired scholar", Oud Holland (1964), vol. 79, part 1, pp. 6-48, p. 47

Jaap Bolten, Dutch drawings from the collection of Dr. Hofstede de Groot, A. Oosthoek (Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1967), under cat. no. 50, p. 86 (n. I)

Jakob Rosenberg, On Quality in Art: Criteria of Excellence, Past and Present, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ, 1967), pp. 187-89, repr. p. 187, fig. 140

J. R. Judson and Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Rembrandt after Three Hundred years: an exhibition of Rembrandt and his Followers, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL, 1969), under cat. no. 203, p. 200

Werner Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, ed. Walter Strauss, Abaris Books (New York, NY, 1979), vol. 8, cat. no. 1863x, pp. 4170-72, repr., and under cat. no. 1864x, p. 4172 and under cat. no. 1875x, p. 4194

William W. Robinson, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., H. O. Zimman, Inc. (Lynn, MA, 1991), cat. no. 48, pp. 114-115, repr.

George S. Keyes, "[Review] Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings. A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection", Master Drawings (Winter 1992), vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 443-448, p. 448

William W. Robinson, "The Early Works of Nicolaes Maes, 1653 to 1661" (1996), Harvard University, vol. 1, pp. 117-118, repr. vol. 3, fig. III-18

William W. Robinson, Bruegel to Rembrandt: Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), cat. no. 52, pp. 130-131, 258, and 280, repr.

Michiel C. Plomp, "[Review] Bruegel to Rembrandt. Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection.", Oud Holland (2004), vol. 117, no. 1/2, pp. 99-102, p. 101 (n. 3)

Christian Dittrich and Thomas Ketelsen, Rembrandt: Les dessins de Dresde, exh. cat., Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and Fondation Custodia (Paris, 2006), under cat. no. 19, pp. 61 and 154 (n. 5)

Peter Schatborn, Rembrandt and his Circle: Drawings in the Frits Lugt Collection, Thoth Publishers and Fondation Custodia (2010), vol. 1, under cat. no. 89, p. 229

Peter C. Sutton and William W. Robinson, Drawings by Rembrandt, his Students and Circle from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., Bruce Museum and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven and London, 2011), cat. no. 26, pp. 11, 33, and 90-91, repr.

Gregory Rubinstein, "[Review] Rembrandt Drawings", The Burlington Magazine (January 2012), vol. 154, no. 1306, pp. 65-66, p. 66

William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016), p. 20; cat. no. 53, pp. 185-187, repr. p. 186; watermark p. 378

Exhibition History

Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 02/23/1991 - 04/18/1991; Albertina Gallery, Vienna, 05/16/1991 - 06/30/1991; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 01/22/1992 - 04/22/1992; Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/10/1992 - 12/06/1992

Bruegel to Rembrandt: Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, British Museum, London, 06/13/2002 - 09/22/2002; Institut Néerlandais, Paris, 10/10/2002 - 12/08/2002; Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/22/2003 - 07/06/2003

Drawings by Rembrandt, his Students and Circle from the Collection of Maida and George Abrams, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, 09/24/2011 - 01/08/2012; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 04/15/2012 - 07/08/2012

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu