* 1613 Leiden
† 1675 Leiden
Gerrit Dou, the founding father of ”Leiden Fine Painting”, was born ibidem in 1613. He made his first steps in art in the field of glass painting: His father, a glass painter, taught Gerrit Dou his trade, before his son served an apprenticeship with a copper engraver (Bartholomeus Dolendo) in 1622, followed by more training in glass painting under Pieter Couwenhorn. The register of the Leiden glass painters´ gild mentions Gerrit Dou for the years between 1625 and 1627 .
The years Gerrit Dous spent with the young Rembrandt were decisive for his development in panel painting. As of 1628 Gerrit Dou worked in Rembrandt´s studio in Leiden, when Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, Gerrit Dou became a self-employed artist in 1631 or 1632. This is where he soon earned great merits for his highly paid paintings: Gerrit Dou specialized in meticulously executed scenes in an illusionist Realism, executed in small format and with great love for details. With his charming interior scenes and genre illustrations, Gerrit Dou coined an entire school, among which artists such as Frans van Mieris the Elder, Willem van Mieris, Gabriel Metsu, Pieter Cornelisz. van Slingelandt and Godfried Schalcken (also: Gottfried Schalken) counted. The school had successors up until the 18th century. The following anecdote tellingly illustrates the manner in which Gerrit Dou and his school worked: It is said the master once worked on a broomstick the size of a fingernail for not less than three days.
Dou was paid by the hour, which is why it is not surprising that he was, after Rembrandt and Frans van Mieris, one of the most expensive Dutch painters in those days: For a high-quality painting the average price was 20-30 Guilders, for a fine painting by Gerrit Dou, however, the average price was between 600 to 1.000 Guilders. Despite these prices, his success was so tremendous that Pieter Spiering, Swedish minister living in The Hague, acquired purchase options for an annual sum of 1.000 Guilders.
In 1648 Gerrit Dou, along with David Bailly, Jan Steen, Gabriel Metsu and Abraham van den Tempel was among the signers of the founding document of the Leiden painters’ gild. Gerrit Dou was deeply rooted in Leiden, according to Houbraken, he even refused the post of English court painter; his reputation, however, was great even far beyond the borders. The list of visits from international people of note that Gerrit Dou received in his studio deliver proof of his international fame: In 1662 Ole Borch from Denmark, in 1663 Balthasar de Monconys from France, in 1669 Cosimo III. de´ Medici from Italy.
In 1675 Gerrit Dou died unmarried and left behind a tremendous fortune.