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Key facts
Full title Portrait of an Elderly Man in a Black Robe
Artist Nicolaes Maes
Artist dates 1634 - 1693
Date made 1666
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 89.5 x 71.4 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir Theodore Martin, KCB, 1888
Inventory number NG1277
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of an Elderly Man in a Black Robe
Nicolaes Maes

A warm light cast from the left illuminates a dark red curtain raised behind the sitter. This light seems to soften the man’s stern expression and the stark white of his stiff collar and cuffs.

The old man in Nicolaes Maes’s portrait hasn’t been identified, even though he appears to be a man of some importance. He wears a tabbaard – a long black gown that’s lined with fur. The gown, together with the book he holds in one hand, suggests he may be a scholar.

Maes has shown the old man sitting stiffly in his chair, his wrinkles, balding head, double chin, quirky eyebrows and two-toned moustache all exactly as they are. But there is, it seems, a feeling of sympathy and respect for his years and experience.

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