Nicolaes Maes was a pupil of Rembrandt whose studio he entered about 1650. His best work, painted before he reached middle age, shows the impress of Rembrandt’s manner at the time Maes fell under his influence. Rembrandt’s Portrait of Titus of this collection, painted in 1655, gives the approximate style which Maes imitated. Genre subjects such as the Altman picture are conceived in the style of his master’s biblical subjects of this epoch. The handling, color, and concentrated sun-light all come directly out of Rembrandt, but the motive is his own and has the simplicity and directness which he preferred.
Against a plain wall, from which a lamp is hanging, sits a homely young woman intent on her work. On a table beside her, covered with a carpet, is a basket of apples, and on the floor is a bucket for the peelings. The scene is lighted by a bright ray of sunlight. It is a study from some member of his household probably. There is a charm and a contentment that never wear out about these simple paintings without any labored composition or under-lying idea.
The work was in England in the early part of the last century. I t was in the collection of Ralph Bernal in the twenties, where it was seen by Smith and described in his Catalogue Raisonné. Mr. Alt-man acquired it from the Rodolphe Kann Collection, which was dispersed in 1907.