Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 1634-Amsterdam, 1693
William III, Prince of Orange, after 1677
Oil on canvas.
William III effectively ruled Holland from 1672. Five years later, he married Mary Stuart II, daughter of the Duke of York, the future King James II of England. After achieving significant victories against France and outmaneuvering James, William and Mary were crowned joint sovereigns of England in 1689. She died in 1694. He reigned until 1702.
A gifted pupil of Rembrandt, Maes concentrated on handsom genre scenes during the first part of his career. After around 1660, he turned to portraiture of a more stylized and elegant manner that descends from the work of van Dyck. With their fine ornament and lustrous finish, this portrait and its pendant of Mary belong to this later style. Reduced versions of full-size portraits, they would have commemorated the sitters’ marriage or one of their later successes.