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Nicolaes Maes, Christ blessing the Children

Key facts
Full title Christ blessing the Children
Artist Nicolaes Maes
Artist dates 1634 - 1693
Date made 1652-3
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 218 × 154 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1866
Inventory number NG757
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Christ blessing the Children
Nicolaes Maes

Nicolaes Maes has turned a biblical moment into a scene from his own time, illustrating part of the Gospel of Matthew (19.13–14): ‘Then there were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’

The words would have been familiar in seventeenth-century Protestant Holland, where the godly upbringing of children was important. Although Christ is dressed in a ‘biblical’ robe, the other figures wear the clothes of working people of the time.

Maes used strong contrast between light and dark, and dark colours enlivened with touches of red, most vividly in the cheeks of the little girl Christ blesses. He would have learned these techniques as a student in Rembrandt’s studio.

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