Gerrit Dou (or Gerard Dou) was born at Leiden, Holland on April 7, 1613. His first instructor in drawing and design was Bartholomew Dolendo, an engraver; and he afterwards learned the art of glass-painting under Peter Kouwhoorn. At the age of 15 he became a pupil of Rembrandt, with whom he continued for three years. From the great master of the Dutch school he acquired his skill in coloring, and in the more, subtle effects of chiaroscuro; and the style of Rembrandt is reflected in several of his earlier pictures, notably in a portrait of himself at the age of 22, in the Bridge-water House gallery, and in the "Blind Tobit going to meet his Son", at Wardour Castle.
At a comparatively early point in his career, however, he had formed a manner of his own distinct from, and indeed in some respects antagonistic to, that of his master. Gifted with unusual clearness of vision and precision of manipulation, he cultivated a minute and elaborate style of treatment; and probably few painters ever spent more time and pains on all the details of their pictures down to the most trivial. He is said to have spent five days in painting a hand; and his work was so fine that he found it necessary to manufacture his own brushes.
Gerrit Dou died in Leiden on February 9, 1675.