The Idle Servant

The painting is apparently the earliest interior of its kind with a view into an adjacent room. This device was further developed in Delft in the work of de Hooch in the later 1650s and by Vermeer. Both Maes and de Hooch may have been influenced by Carel Fabritius, another pupil of Rembrandt, who moved to Delft in about 1650.

The kitchen scene in Maes's painting is complemented by the room beyond, where figures sit at table. The strong lighting in the foreground shows the artist's continuing debt to Rembrandt. It highlights the figures of the maid and the mistress, the standing figure gesturing towards the idle servant with an array of dishes at her feet and a cat stealing food on the ledge beside her.

Key facts

Artist dates
1634 - 1693
Full title
Interior with a Sleeping Maid and her Mistress ('The Idle Servant')
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on oak
70 x 53.3 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit
Bequeathed by Richard Simmons, 1847
Inventory number
Location in Gallery