This painting was done by Nicolas Maes (1634-1693), this work falls in the category of 17th century Dutch genre painting. The website The History of The Netherlands wrote, "He was among the first Dutch genre painters to depict the domestic interior not as a shallow, three-walled box but as suite of rooms". At first glance, you can't help but look at the maid starring right at you, but once your eyes leave her, you get this curiousity of what is happening in the rest of the rooms. Upstair you have people preparing to have a social gathering or meal. The two rooms on both sides only allows you to see just enough inside to keep you curious and your eyes moving to the other rooms. All these rooms makes you feel like your in a maze. Regardless of the many rooms, the black and red colors on the people's clothes keeps you focused on the what's going on inside. Maes not only keeps your attention in the house, but he also has you looking outside at the big white house, which gives you an idea how big the house is you're actually in.
Other Dutch genre painters like Pieter de Hooch's Easy Come, Easy Go (top) and Jan Steen's Company Making Music (bottom) also start to move out of the three-walled box to other rooms.
The name of Maes' painting is called The Eavesdropper. At least once in your life, you will definitely find yourself in the position of this maid. The maid comes down the stairs hearing the secret meeting between this couple in the hallway. Her shocked stare and cheesy smile allows the viewer to become part of her secret. The gathering upstairs has an empty chair next to a women who is probably waiting for her husband who is downstairs in this fling. The maid's finger up to her mouth is obvious that she is telling you to be quiet, but one interpretation explained it this way, that her finger is also pointing above her head to the bust of the Roman goddess Juno, who is known as the protector of women and childbirth, which suggest that the adultery is continuing. In my opinion, whether the woman is pregnant or not is hard to tell after knowing about Jan Van Eyck's Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife, which keeps you in the verisimilitude realm concerning her pregnancy.
There is more interesting things to draw out of this painting, but hopefully I have whetted you interest in Nicolas Maes' genre paintings.