Self-Portrait, c. 1665, oil on panel, arched top,
59 x 43.5 (23 1/4 x 17 1/8), private collection, Boston



In this self-portrait, Dou depicts himself in an artist's studio holding a palette and brushes and studying a large open book. He is no ordinary craftsman, but an artist whose intellectual works are the means by which he will triumph over his own mortality. The painting's illusionism is enhanced by the objects on the window ledge -- the plaster cast, the book, the sash -- that seem to project into the viewer's space. The emphasis on Dou's artistry is intended both to delight and to prompt speculation about the relationship between the real and the represented worlds.

Like his costume, many of the objects in the painting carry connotations related to the ideas of studium and vanitas. In addition to their associations with learning, the violin, books, and globe were all common symbols of ephemerality.

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