* 1629 Leiden
† 1667 Amsterdam
Gabriel Metsu, son of Jacques Metsu, was born at Leiden in 1629 and is regarded one of the main representatives of the Leiden School. His talent for art showed at an early point: In 1643, still at a young age, Gabriel Metsu was part of an artists' initiative with the aim to found a painters' gild. The (initially interim) gild accepted the young Gabriel Metsu into its ranks in 1644. Houbraken's claim regarding Gabriel Metsu's apprenticeship with Gerard Dou is doubted by experts. It is rather the influence of Rembrandt's school that becomes obvious in the often large and earthen paintings from his early period of creation than the characteristic Leiden style of, for instance, Dou. However, as far as Gabriel Metsu's style is concerned, his contact with works by Jan Steen, Nicolaus Knüpfer and Jan Baptist Weenix can be assumed. It seems that Gabriel Metsu left his hometown for some time after 1650 ("uit de stad vertrokken"), but he had returned by 1654 the latest. As of 1657 there is proof of Gabriel Metsu's activities in Amsterdam , where he, according to Houbraken, survived a gallstone removal operation. The same year Gabriel Metsu married Isabella de Wolff. A few years later Gabriel Metsu made his main works. With a reduced amount of figures, Gabriel Metsu made everyday genre scenes of the bourgeoisie life. He also made a few historical scenes, still lives, portraits and allegories. At a later point Gabriel Metsu worked with strong colors, especially with the three primary colors yellow, red and blue. In comparison with the Leiden tradition, his stroke of the brush is more pictorial, which does not lead to a loss of materiality. In the late 1660s the coloring in Gabriel Metsu's works took a tendency towards a cooler, bluish tone. In 1667 Gabriel Metsu died in his adopted home Amsterdam.