MAES, Nicolaes
(b. 1634, Dordrecht, d. 1693, Amsterdam)

Eavesdropper with a Scolding Woman

Oil on panel, 46,3 x 72,2 cm
Private collection

Maes's fame rests primarily on his genre paintings of the intimate life of women and children made at Dordrecht during the 1650s. In this witty picture a maid quietly smiles at us as she points to the room upstairs, making us complicitous in overhearing a scolding mistress. Maes generated ambiguity by hiding the object of the woman's wrath with the illusionistic curtain. To the left, utensils have tumbled over, lying idle. By opening the curtain, the painter literally reveals a badly managed household: the maid spends more time listening than working, and the mistress does not create domestic harmony.