Charles T.D. Crews Esq., 41 Portman Square, London,
His deceased sale, London, Christie's, 1-2 July 1915, lot 44 (as "The Prince of Orange...when a child") for 44.2 Guineas, to Levin;
Anonymous sale, Amsterdam, Frederik Muller, 16 December 1919, lot 48, for 2.425 Guilders to Van Gelder.
C. Hofstede de Groot, Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke..., vol. VI, Esslingen/Paris 1915, p. 563, no. 337;
L. Krempel, Studien zu den datierten Gemälden des Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693), Petersberg 2000, p. 299, cat. no. A 89, reproduced fig. 156.
By 1667, when this work was painted, Maes' reputation as a portrait painter would soon reach its peak. Although trained in the workshop of Rembrandt his portraits of the 1660s and after retain little of his master's influence; after returning to his native Dordrecht in 1653 he seems to have locked his portraiture style of the later 1650s into that of his townsmen Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp and Aelbert Cuyp. Into the next decade, his style would develop in response to the gentle elegance of the Fleming Anthony van Dyck which had been brought to the northern Netherlands by, amongst others, Jan Mijtens and Adriaen Hanneman. Indeed it is to Mijtens that Maes owes his mature style, exemplified by the present work and characterised not only by broad brushwork and rich colouring but by the use of props and classical motifs. By the time he moved to Amsterdam in 1673 Maes could count the majority of the social élite as his patrons and his success was to reach such levels that Houbraken would remark of him: 'so much work came his way that it was deemed a favour if one person was granted the opportunity to sit for a portrait before another, and so it remained for the rest of his life'.
Of all his portraits, Maes' depictions of children are his most lively and amusing. Here, the enslaved goat is disturbed or goaded by the yapping toy dog and the boy, richly dressed in classical costume, is clearly enjoying his ride. The goat-drawn chariot, the preserve of the wealthy, occurs in a number of other works by Maes of this period, for example in his portrait of the Sykes family1 of 1664. The elaborate and stately nature of this and all of Maes' portraiture of the late 1660s and on is perhaps indicative of the growing strength of the House of Orange (and the appetite for ceremonious grandeur that went with it) which was eventually restored to power in 1672 in place of the more staid and sober States faction. The sitter in this work has indeed previously been identified as the Prince of Orange, an identification which however seems improbable.
1. Warsaw, Erzbischöfliches Museum; see L. Krempel, under Literature, p. 294, cat. no. A60, reproduced fig. 160.
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