Gerrit Dou Netherlands

4-7-1613 Leiden, NED –2-9-1675 Leiden, NED

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Dou, Gerrit

Gerrit Dou was born in Leiden, where his father was a manufacturer of stained-glass. He studied drawing under Bartholomeus Dolendo, and then trained in the stained-glass workshop of Pieter Couwenhorn. In February 1628, at the age of fourteen, his father sent him to study painting in the studio of Rembrandt (then aged about 21) who lived nearby. From Rembrandt, with whom he remained for about three years, he acquired his skill in coloring and in the more subtle effects of chiaroscuro, and his master's style is reflected in several of his earlier pictures.

At a comparatively early point in his career, however, Gerrit Dou developed a distinctive manner of his own which diverged considerably from Rembrandt's, cultivating a minute and elaborate style of treatment. He is said to have spent five days in painting a hand, and his work was so fine that he found it necessary to manufacture his own brushes.

Notwithstanding the minuteness of his touch, the general effect was harmonious and free from stiffness, and his color was always fresh and transparent. He often represented subjects in lantern or candle light, the effects of which he reproduced with an unparalleled fidelity and skill. Gerrit Dou often painted with the aid of a concave mirror, and to obtain exactness looked at his subject through a frame crossed with squares of silk thread. His practice as a portrait painter, which was at first considerable, gradually declined, sitters being unwilling to give him the time that he deemed necessary. Pieter Spiering, who acted as Swedish Ambassador in The Hague from the mid-1630s, paid him 500 guilders annually simply for the right of first refusal of his latest works.

Art Movement: Dutch Golden Age, Baroque
Influences: Bartholomeus Dolendo, Rembrandt
Influenced: Frans van Mieris the Elder, Gabriël Metsu, Bartholomeus Maton, Carel de Moor, Matthijs Naiveu, Godfried Schalcken, Pieter Cornelisz van Slingelandt, Domenicus van Tol, Pieter Hermansz Verelst
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