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Gerard Dou - Dutch Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Gerard Dou (1613 - 1675)

Gerrit Dou was born in Leiden where he became Rembrandt’s first student in 1628. His early style was reflective of his teacher’s but when Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam around 1631, Dou developed a smoother, more distinctive approach. He painted meticulously, with careful attention to detail and sometimes enlisted the aid of a magnifying glass. He painted an array of subjects, but is remembered for his domestic interiors. In 1648, Dou helped found the Leiden Guild of St. Luke. He established an international reputation and even turned down an invitation from Charles II to travel to England. Dou enjoyed an extended period of success and financial prosperity until the development of Impressionism. He specialised in genre scenes and is noted for his trompe l'oeil "niche" paintings and candlelit night-scenes with strong chiaroscuro. Notwithstanding the minuteness of his touch, however, the general effect was harmonious and free from stiffness, and his color was always admirably fresh and transparent. He was fond of representing subjects in lantern or candle light, the effects of which he reproduced with a fidelity and skill which no other master has equaled. He frequently painted by 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. His pictures were always small in size, and represented chiefly subjects in still life. Upwards of 200 are attributed to him, and specimens are to be found in most of the great public collections of Europe.

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