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Nicolaes Maes, Dutch, 16341693
The Account Keeper, 1656
oil on canvas
26 x 21 1/8 inches
Museum Purchase 72:1950

In this painting a woman appears to have fallen asleep in the middle of her work. She sits with a pile of books in front of her and holds a quill pen. The pile of books is sloppy, but the rest of the room is tidy. A large map of the world hangs on the wall. During this period in history European countries were exploring the globe, and people were fascinated by unknown territory. Keys hang from a nail below the map. The room and objects in it are typical of a Dutch middle class home in the 1650s. Although the artist gives us few clues as to why the woman is sleepy, the objects and their arrangement show that she is part of a household that is orderly and financially sound.

For younger students:
How many round shapes do you see in the room?
What do you think will happen next in this story?

For older students:
Why is there a sea monster in the map hanging on the wall?
Which do you think is the primary focus of the painting-the room or the woman-and why?

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