Gerrit Dou was born in Leiden, a city that was important in the seventeenth century. Leiden was right in the middle of The Hague and Amsterdam, and it was a place where a lot of things were happening. It had a big textile industry and the first Protestant university in the Netherlands.
Gerrit’s dad, Douwe Jansz, was good at working with glass. He had a workshop where he engraved glass, and it was doing well. Gerrit learned about this craft from a skilled glassmaker, and he got really good at paying attention to small details. This skill later became a big part of his style as a painter.
Around 1627-1628, Gerrit Dou started learning from the famous artist Rembrandt. He probably had to pay for his lessons and art supplies. From Rembrandt, Gerrit picked up a lot of ideas, like how to use light and dark in his paintings, and he got interested in making self-portraits. He also became very good at painting textures.
After Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam in 1631, Gerrit stayed in Leiden and kept improving his own style. He found a big supporter named Pieter Spiering, who worked for Queen Christina of Sweden. Spiering paid Gerrit an annual amount for his art. In 1641, Gerrit Dou was celebrated as an excellent painter, and he helped start a group of painters in Leiden in 1648.
His fame grew, and people from all over Europe collected his paintings, including important people like Archduke Leopold Wilhelm and Cosimo III de Medici. Some of his paintings were even given to Charles II of England as a gift in 1660. In 1665, another supporter named Jan de Bye put on an exhibition with 27 of Gerrit Dou’s paintings.
Gerrit Dou was not only a great painter but also a teacher. He led a group of fine painters in Leiden, and some of his students became famous too. Gerrit never got married, and people said he was very neat and paid a lot of attention to detail. He passed away in Leiden in 1675 and was buried in the St. Pieters Kerk on February 9th of the same year. His art continues to be admired, and he influenced many other painters.