Initially studied in S. van Hoogstraten in Dordrecht (where he lived almost continuously), and 1661-1667 in the Amsterdam of Rembrandt. Unlike other pupils of Rembrandt Gelder in his paintings on biblical, mythological, and genre subjects and portraits have sought more creative deeply to follow the peculiarities of the method of the great masters, revealing often directly dependent on his work. Comprehending the artistic sense of the imagery of Rembrandt, Gelder did not, however, his copycat. In his emotional art, to reveal the intimate human experiences, a new independent trend.
About 1660 Gelder attended the workshop Hoogstraten in Dordrecht, and in 1661 in Amsterdam - was one of the last pupils of Rembrandt. He was one of those artists that has managed to absorb the spirit and technique of the later years of Rembrandt and which in the eighteenth century defended these principles on a background of subtle, muted and aristocratic letters, characteristic of painting of the second half of the Golden age. Later, he returned to Dordrecht, Gelder met with Houbraken, who undoubtedly owed him a many accurate information on Rembrandt. His work is devoted mainly religious paintings and portraits, in all his works, he retains the same rich technique, reminiscent of Rembrandt - a warm red-gold color, loose texture, pasty, lighting. The Gelder also characterized by gamma rosy pink and pale lilac flowers, exquisite chiaroscuro, lightness and tenderness sentimentalnaya which anticipates the eighteenth century and, in particular, Fragonard. Gelder, in this sense, much ahead of its time.
In 1671 Gelder was already established by the wizard, as seen in his painting "ECCE Homo" (Dresden Art Gal.), inspired by the famous etching by Rembrandt (1655). From 1685 Gelder creates a work, written with an almost romantic inspiration, many of which were his masterpieces: the "self" (Frankfurt, Städel art Institute), "Esther and Mordecai" (Budapest, Museum of fine arts), "Esther" (Munich, Alte Pinakothek), exciting by its mysterious portrait of Ernst van Waveren (Amsterdam, the State. Museum) in a lush embroidered in gold robes, as he loved to dress their model and the Rembrandt. One of his best works - a series of the Passion in 22 paintings, most of which, according to Houbraken, was completed in 1715 and which he kept at until his death (now 10 paintings - Munich, Alte Pinakothek, 2 - Amsterdam, GOS. Museum). Since that time, Gelder writes very few paintings (imposing "portrait of a family doctor Boerhave", 1722, Amsterdam. State. Museum).
In XVIII - XIX centuries, works of Gelder was often considered works of Rembrandt, such as the famous painting "Abraham and the three angels" (Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, purchased from a private French collection), the controversy around which continued until 1890. This is best evidence in favor of the artist, whose paintings seem so beautiful, as though they were written by Rembrandt.