Lot 13
  • 13

Nicolaes Maes

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Nicolaes Maes
  • The flight of Lot
  • oil on canvas
  • 42 1/2  by 37 1/2  in.; 108 by 95.3 cm.


Probably Fr. Robert Bonham, Esq.,
His sale, London, Christie's, 16 February 1811, lot 46 (as "Bol"), to Smith;
Oswald Augustus Smith, Esq., England;
With Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, London, 1900;
From whom acquired by Clement A. Griscom, Philadelphia;
His sale, New York, American Art Association, 26 February 1914, lot 21 (as Ferdinand Bol), to Vanderlip;
Mrs. Frank A. Vanderlip, "Beechwood," Scarborough, NY:
Thence by descent to the present owner.


F.W. Robinson, Seventeenth Century Dutch Drawings from American Collections, exhibition catalogue, Washington D.C. 1977, p. 79, under cat. no. 77 (as Maes);
W. Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, New York 1979, vol. VIII. p. 4259 (as uncertain as Maes);
A. Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680), Rembrandt's Pupil, Doornspijk 1982, p. 162, cat. no. R1, reproduced fig. 96 (under Rejected Attributions, which has also been attributed to N. Maes; an impressive picture which is reminiscent of W. Drost's Noli me tangere in Kassel);
W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schuler, Landau/Pfalz 1983, vol. 3, p. 2008, cat. no. 1321, reproduced p. 2047 (as by Maes);
W.W. Robinson, The early works of Nicolaes Maes, 1653-1661, Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University 1996, cat. no. C-2 (as by a follower of Maes);
L. Krempel, Studien zu den datierten Gemälde des Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693), Petersberg 2000, p. 365, cat. no. E11, reproduced fig. 421 (under Doubtful Works, as Maes?).


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. Although this work is freshly varnished, it has not been recently restored. There seem to be slight blanching in the winged angel on the far right and in the kneeling woman in the lower right. In the upper center about 4 inches from the top edge to the right of the dark cloud, there is an old restoration addressing a damage to the canvas. This restoration is broadly applied and has discolored. There is probably some restoration in the dark colors in the hindquarters of the dog. There may be broad restorations in the background that should be removed. The lining is not particularly good and should be re-examined. The painting would respond well to careful restoration.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This beautiful and moving depiction of The Flight of Lot is a rare biblical subject by Nicolaes Maes, who is best known for his genre paintings and portraits. Early in his career, shortly after leaving Rembrandt’s studio and beginning to paint as an independent master, he produced a number of religious themed works, such as Abraham Dismissing Hagar and Ismael of 1653, his earliest dated work (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York  inv. no. 1971.73). The story of Lot, nephew of Abraham, and his flight from the city of Sodom is told in Genesis (19: 1-28). Two angels, to whom Lot had given hospitality for the night, warned him that God was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sinfulness, and urged him to flee with his wife and two daughters.  The angels warned them not to look behind them as they left  “lest they be consumed.”  Lot’s wife did not heed their advice and, upon looking back, was turned into a pillar of salt.  This painting depicts the moment before this happens, as the angels are seen literally pushing the family along as one daughter frantically gathers food and valuables in a basket, while the other has bundled other belongings in a rug which she carries on her head.  Lot’s wife weeps and pulls away from him as he tries to persuade her to come with them.  Maes touchingly captures the anguish and confusion of the moment.

This painting is likely the picture sold in the 1811 sale (see Provenance) as by Ferdinand Bol, another artist in Rembandt’s circle. It seems to have remained under that name as it appeared as such in the 1914 Griscom collection sale in New York (see Provenance), where it was purchased by the Vanderlip family.  Franklin Robinson, in 1977 (see Literature), first linked the painting to Maes when he related it to a drawing of the same subject, then ascribed to Maes (but now given to Justus de Gelder, Maes’s stepson) in the Abrams collection.1  In his important publications on the Rembrandt School, Werner Sumowski  (see Literature) published The Flight of Lot as a work by Nicolas Maes and dated it to circa 1675-80, relating it stylistically to another work from this period, The Sick Woman, formerly in the Corcoran Gallery of Art , Washington, D.C., and now in the National Gallery of Art. 2  León Krempel, in his monograph on Maes (see Literature), and based on an old black and white photograph, questioned the attribution to Maes, though compared the curly-haired angels and the painterly treatment of the draperies to Maes’s portrait style of circa 1679-86.  However, having recently seen good images of the painting, Krempel has stated that he is inclined to accept The Flight of Lot as a work by Maes, pending further research.  We are also grateful to Volker Manuth who has endorsed the attribution of this painting to Maes, on the basis of photographs.





1.  See F.W. Robinson, under Literature, p. 79., in the Maida and George Abrams collection.
2.  See W. Sumowski, under Literature, p. 2025, cat. no. 1382, reproduced p. 2108.