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Nicolaes Maes, Portrait of a Man in a Black Wig

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man in a Black Wig
Artist Nicolaes Maes
Artist dates 1634 - 1693
Date made about 1680
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 47.6 × 38.7 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1913
Inventory number NG2954
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Man in a Black Wig
Nicolaes Maes

Late in his career, Nicolaes Maes painted several small portraits in this style, often in an oval format. The background is dark, with a brown brocade curtain pushed to one side behind the sitter. A stylish young man confronts us with a direct gaze and half smile.

We don’t know who this young man might be, but he’s dressed in the fashionably informal style for portraits of the time. His brown silk robe would only have been worn in the house. His knotted scarf replaces the high collar with tabs worn on formal occasions, but he still wears a full-bottomed wig with its ornate curls. He tucks one hand into the front of the robe, revealing the white of his undershirt. The other hand is just visible, pushed into a pocket in the robe.

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