Artist in His Studio, c. 1630-1632, oil on panel, 59 x 43.5 (23 1/4 x 17 1/8), private collection


Artist in His Studio

The composition owes an unmistakable debt to Rembrandt's A Young Painter in His Studio. The monochromatic palette enlivened by a swath of greenish blue, the unmodulated application of paint, and the strong chiaroscuro are common to both paintings. Dou's artist, like Rembrandt's, holds palette and brushes, while the easel faces away from the viewer. Neither Dou nor Rembrandt depicts a particular individual but offers a generic representation of "The Painter."

Differences in the two masters' compositions are indicative of their contrasting approaches to art. Rembrandt dramatizes his scene by focusing on a few essential compositional elements, while Dou includes numerous objects to enrich the pictorial effect. Rembrandt's painter -- his face in shadow -- is dwarfed by a looming easel that dominates an otherwise barely furnished space. Dou lavishes equal attention on the painter, who gazes directly at the viewer, and the still-life components, offering a convincing and beautiful rendering of an abundance of surfaces and materials.

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