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Gerrit (Gerard)
Dow

Netherlands 
1613−1675
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Gerrit doe (Gerrit Dou, also known as Gerard Dow - Gerard Douw or Dow; April 7, 1613, Leiden - February 9, 1675, Leiden) - painter of the Dutch Golden Age, the first student Rembrandt. Founder of the Leiden School fijnschilders ("Exquisite artists") and the Guild of St. Luke.

Features creativity Gerrit Dow. Dow's enduring fame lies in the attractiveness of small, but extremely painstakingly and skillfully executed works: genre scenes, still lifes, portraits and — unusual for Dutch artists of the 17th century — nude. His paintings are distinguished by a smooth, as if enamelled surface, which became the standard for the whole school. fijnschilders. The time that the artist spent on thoroughly depicting the details is illustrated by the following legend: when he was praised for his patience, with which a tiny broom the size of a fingernail was painted, the master replied that he had three more days of work. His customer told me that he spent five days on only one of her hands. Since Dow took six guilders an hour as a portrait painter, it comes as no surprise that portraits do not constitute a significant part of his work.

Most often in the pictures of Dow one is depicted - two figures that are engaged in daily activities, either in the interior, or visible through the window. It was this artist who popularized the compositional decision “the frame inside the frame”, for which his paintings were called “niche”. Many works are full of symbols and numerous - sometimes ambiguous - visual references to common proverbs or slogans.

At a comparatively early stage of his career, Dow developed his own characteristic manner, distinct from Rembrandt, refining a detailed and subtle style. After spending five days writing one hand in a portrait, he found a job so amazing that he began to produce his own brushes. More than 200 paintings are attributed to Gerrit Dow, and examples of his work can be found in most of Europe’s major public collections. The most famous of his students - Franz van Miris the Elder. Another is consideredGabriel Metsu, but the documents do not confirm this.

Famous paintings by Gerrit Dow: "Young mother", "Girl, cutting onions", "Doctor-charlatan", "The Woman Behind the Clavichord", "A man with a pipe and a book (Self-portrait)".

Rembrandt and 100 Guilders


Gerrit Dow was born in Leiden to the family of Mariti Yansdotter van Rosenburg and glassmaker and engraver Dow Yans. The first lessons in the art of engraving on glass, he received from his father. At the age of nine, the boy enrolled as a copper engraver, Bartholomeus Dolendo, with whom he remained for one and a half years. Then he studied for two years with glass artist Peter Kauvenhorn, and from 1625 to 1627 he was a member of the glaziers' guild. Here it is tempting to establish a connection between Dow's early career years and the shining, as if polished surfaces of his later panels.

February 14, 1628 Gerrit Dou, who was not yet 15 years old, entered the workshop of Rembrandt van Rijn. At that time, the last himself barely left adolescence. It is believed that Dow was the first student of 21-year-old Rembrandt. Subsequently, he had about fifty trainees. At the same time, it seems, Rembrandt never took novices.

The student's parents had to pay Rembrandt tuition fees of 100 guilders annually. This was a significant amount at that time, especially if one considers that the teacher, contrary to custom, did not provide young people with satisfaction. Students, as was customary in the 17th century, studied by copying the master's works, and later more or less freely drew and wrote their variations based on his works. Rembrandt's biographers say that the students worked in the attic in separate cubicles separated by a canvas or paper.

Dow has no paintings dated Rembrandt. But some of his works are so close in style to the teaching staff that they were probably written at that time. Dow's early work is sometimes even attributed to Rembrandt himself - this confusion is partly due to the fact that in those years they had common themes and models.

To illustrate the influence of Rembrandt on the Dow, art historians often compare two paintings with the same title, “Artist in the Studio,” one of which belongs to the teacherand the second is to student.

"Great outcome", dust and fijnschilders


1631 was a turning point for the development of painting in Leiden. The sudden departure of several artists caused serious damage to the artistic life in the city. First, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, who agreed to open a workshop there under the patronage of the famous art dealer Hendrick van Eulenburg. Shortly after that his friend Ian livenswent to London in the hope of getting a place court painter. In the same year, the city lost its successful landscape painter Jan van Goyenwho chose to settle in The Hague, and the master of still lifes Jan Davids de Hema. The latter, though not born in Leiden, but worked there for a long time before he went in search of happiness in Antwerp.

This “great outcome” is not due to the deterioration of living conditions in Leiden. On the contrary, a year earlier, the urban textile industry — the basis of the local economy — reached the peak of development. Thus, the reasons for leaving would be personal, due to the belief in greater success elsewhere.

The loss of talent — primarily Rembrandt and Levens — led Leiden to artistic stagnation, which lasted almost a decade. Nevertheless, it was their departure that made the road to success for Gerrit Dow, whose star rose by the end of the 1630s and shone brightly not only in his native city, but also outside the country.

The first exquisite style of the 28-year-old Dow was praised by the burgomaster Jan Orlers. In his "Description of the City of Leiden" from 1641, he notes a young man as "An excellent master, especially in small, subtle and intricate things". A year later, the artist and critic Phillips Angel publishes "Praise to painters", where he also assigns the leading role to Dow. In the passage concerning the ideal manner of writing, the author encourages his fellows to follow the example of a colleague.

However, by that time, Dow was a role model and without the support of the Angel. The price of his paintings reached a thousand guilders, and the high personal standards in the work could be described as “uncompromising perfectionism”. Only bad weather could prevent the artist to appear in the studio. Moreover, he personally carried out what his colleagues left to his students - for example, rubbed pigments. Dow himself made brushes and was so afraid of dust that after the session he hid the palette, tools and paint in a dustproof cabinet. The next day, before taking inventory and getting to work, he waited a long time for the dust to settle (who knows if this was due to the desire to preserve the brightness of the colors and the smoothness of the surface in the picture - or the master suffered with amathophobia). On one of the self portraits it is seenas a painter protected the boards from her by setting an umbrella over the easel.

It's amazing how with such an attitude to the work of Gerrit Dow turned pupils. Nevertheless, it is reliably known that their number at various times included Godfried Schalken, Frans van myris as well Abraham de Pap, Karel de moore, the nephew of the artist Domenic van Tol (who, according to some art critics, came to the studio as a relative, not for talent) and others. Together with numerous followers who worked “in the Dow technique”, they formed in Leiden a school called fijnschilders - "exquisite artists." This term was known until the end of the XVIII century and referred to a special style of painting - an extremely accurate and careful depiction of details in a small format.

However, none of these artists, except perhaps Metsu and van Miris, did not achieve the success of Gerrit Dow.

Dealers, princes, kings and other collectors


In the treatise of Phillips Angel, it was mentioned that Gerrit Dou gave the honorary citizen Peter Springs “the right of first refusal”, for which he received 500 guilders annually. And although Herr Spirings, an industrialist, diplomat, and collector, was not the patron of the artist in the full sense of the word, his scholarship gave Dow a guaranteed income in the late 1630s. Then the skilled craftsmen earned one guilder a day, so that their colleagues could only envy the young artist.

Peter Springs, who was the agent of the Swedish Queen Christina, apparently convinced his patroness to double the annual payment for the right to first refuse the artist's paintings. Prices for the work of Gerrit Dow surpassed the value of the works of his teacher, Rembrandt. Excessive fees are supported by documentary sources. For example, there is evidence that the States General of the Netherlands paid the painter an enormous amount of 4,000 guilders for the “Young Mother” (1658). This picture was one of the gifts to Charles II of England on the occasion of his restoration to the throne. Admiring the subtlety of execution, the monarch invited her author to take the post of painter at the royal court. Dow, who did not need a job, declined this invitation.

Panels of Gerrit Dou bought, among others, the Duke of Florence Duke Cosimo III de Medici and the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria. The merits of the master were appreciated by fellow countrymen: in Leiden it was called not only “monsieur” - this word was usually meant for people of noble origin.

Dow vs impressionism


Gerrit Dow never married and never left Leiden. He died on February 9, 1675 and was buried in his hometown in the church of St. Peter. Together with By Jan Stenthe master was the founder of the Guild of St. Luke, but unlike his colleague, he was respected throughout his life. His paintings were valued until the XIX century, until, with the advent of impressionism, careful execution was not considered soulless, and stylistic and thematic innovations were not out of fashion. At the beginning of the 20th century, the organizers of exhibitions of Dutch art most often rejected his work. However, in our days, art historians have completely rethought the artistic achievements of the Dow and returned to the master a place of honor in the pleiad of artists of the Golden Age of Dutch painting.

Author: Vlad Maslov
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