With the Gerrit Dou portrait/self portrait, I'm curious why the portrait has not been displayed in public since 1946?
The painting was acquired in 1932, but for many years it was believed to have been a copy of a Dou painting made by a lesser-known artist. In 2011, it was conclusively attributed to Dou, which gave it greater historical value and made it much more interesting for display.
Where was this on display in 1945?
The Brooklyn Museum acquired it in 1932 but took it off view in 1945, when it was probably put into storage. Just before it was taken down, however, it appeared in an exhibition at the Museum titled "European Paintings Selected from the Museum Collection" (November 9, 1944- January 1, 1945). The Museum did not prominently display the picture again until 2011 because in the intervening years it was believed to have been painted by a lesser-known artist. In 2011, it was finally attributed back to Dou by art historians which made it much more interesting and important to display once again.
Did Gerrit Dou always paint on such a small scale?
Although this tiny portrait, it measures only 6 x 5 inches!, is one of Dou’s smallest works, he specialized in small-format paintings, whose details and surfaces even more carefully observed and meticulously rendered as they are here. Dou became the leading figure among the Leiden "fijnschilders" (fine painters) who continued the earlier Netherlandish tradition of meticulous description and superb craftsmanship.
In Dutch, that word literally translates to "fine painters," and refers to the Dutch Golden Age painters who were interested in depicting a natural reproduction of reality, often interior, domestic scenes.
Oh! Thank you!
Are there any more Dutch Golden Age painters in the museum?
Frans Hals is considered among this group. You can find a work titled "Portrait of a Man" not too far on that wall from the Dou. It is a portrait of a man looking out at the viewer and he sits within a frame painted on the canvas.
In which his hand sticks out of the frame?
Why is that?
Hals is using a form of trompe l'oeil painting (to fool the eye). First used by classical Roman painters, it was taken up by Renaissance painters in the 15th century. Usually, this effect was used when part of the subject of the painting extended beyond the frame as you see here. It catches the eye of the viewer and is a moment of illusion. Is it real or part of the painting? Trompe l’oeil often shows off the artist’s skill as this form of convincing illusionism is hard to achieve. It also brings several layers of meaning to the painting, drawing attention both to the subject of the painting (the man in black) and the the object of his affection (the miniature portrait he extends), perhaps that of his wife or fiancee. Frans Hals uses it as a device in many of his paintings, so be on the lookout for it when you see his works in other museums!
Yes, it's fun to pick up on! If you enjoy the Dutch Golden Age painters I would suggest a visit to The Met at some point. They have a few rooms dedicated to them and the works are absolutely amazing.
I will! Thanks!