Amsterdam’s painters – Gerrit Dou

Gerrit Dou was born in Leiden on April 7th 1613 and died in Leiden on February 9th 1675. Painter

Gerrit Dou, selfportrait 1631  Self portrait, around 1631

To begin with Dou was an apprentice of his father, who was a glass painter. After that he was an apprentice of the glass painter Pieter Couwenhorn. Then he was Rembrandts first apprentice for three years.

Gerrit Dou, still life

In 1632 he settled as an independent painter in Leiden, where he very quickly became very famous. In the beginning Rembrandt’s influence showed clearly in Dou’s works, sometimes to such an extent that it was difficult to determine, who of the two was the artist behind the work.


Dou also painted portraits of Rembrandt and his parents. Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is in possession of the painting ‘The mother of Rembrandt’ from around 1630.

gerrit-dou-Rembrandts mother  Rembrandt’s mother

From approximately 1640 Dou began painting small genre pieces with motives from daily life. This he did in great detail. His refined technique even made it necessary for him to make his own brushes. To paint as much detail as Dou did required a lot of time and one of the consequences was that he was in less demand as a portrait painter. People simply did not have time to pose for his paintings so long.

Gerrit-or-Gerard-Dou xx Self-Portrait-xx-  Self portrait

Dou often painted his pictures as if they were seen through a bow window, making the image more intimate. This technique has since been imitated by many other painters.  He also perfected the light/dark effect (chiaroscuro), by painting pictures with candle light. For this he made exceptionally many studies.


Dou produced more than 200, mainly small pieces which can be found in museums all around the world.


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