DOU, Gerrit
(b. 1613, Leiden, d. 1675, Leiden)


Gerrit (also spelled Gerard) Dou, Dutch painter. In 1628 he became the first pupil of the young Rembrandt, basing his early work closely on his master's. After Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, Dou developed a style of his own, painting usually on a small scale, with a surface of almost enamelled smoothness. He was astonishingly fastidious about his tools and working conditions, with a particular horror of dust. Some of his pictures were painted with the aid of a magnifying glass.

He painted numerous subjects, but is best known for domestic interiors. They usually contain only a few figures framed by a window or by the drapery of a curtain, and surrounded by books, musical instruments, or household paraphernalia, all minutely depicted. He is at his best in scenes lit by artificial light.

With Jan Steen, Dou was among the founders of the Guild of St Luke at Leiden in 1648. Unlike Steen he was prosperous and respected throughout his life, and his pictures continued to fetch big prices (consistently higher than those paid for Rembrandt's work) until the advent of Impressionism influenced taste against the neatness and precision of his style.

Dou had a workshop with many pupils who perpetuated his style and Leiden continued the fijnschilder (fine painter) tradition until the 19th century.