Gerrit Dou Biography | Oil Painting Reproductions

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 who was only 21 himself and who lived close-by. From Rembrandt, with whom he stayed for around three years, he acquired his expertise in coloring and in the more subtle effects of chiaroscuro, and his Rembrandt's style is reflected in several of his earlier paintings.

At an early point in his career, Gerrit Dou developed his very own particular way of painting which diverged from Rembrandt's, cultivating a minute and elaborate style of treatment. He is said to have spent five days in painting only a hand, and his work was so fine that commercially bought brushes were not able to handle the small detail, so he found it necessary to make his own brushes.

In spite of the minuteness of his touch, the general effect was harmonious and free from stiffness, and his color was always crisp and transparent. His subjects were often bathed in lantern or candle light, the effects of warmth and shadows which he reproduced with an unparalleled skill.

Gerrit Dou painted with the aid of a concave mirror, and to get precision looked at his subject through a frame crossed with squares of silk string. By making square outlines on his canvas, he was able to duplicate exactly what he saw. His considerable amount of patronage he got for his earlier portrait paintings, started to decline as he got older, he was a slow painter and people were now unwilling to give him the necessary time. But all was not lost, Pieter Spiering, who was the Swedish Ambassador in The Hague from the mid-1630s, paid him 500 guilders annually for the right of first refusal of his latest works.

Art Movement: Dutch Golden Age, Baroque.
Artists Influencing Gerrit Dou: Bartholomeus Dolendo, Rembrandt.
Painters Gerrit Dou 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.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.

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