gerrit dou’s “sleeping beauty”

One of the many masterpieces I had the honor to inspect and handle first hand as an art specialist, was this sublime painting by the 17th century Dutch artist Gerrit Dou, the first of the group of artists known as the Leiden ‘fine’ painters. He entered Rembrandt’s studio at the age of thirteen, when the great master himself was still a teenager, and specialized in small-format paintings.

The subject cannot possibly be more endearing and the master depiction of all its elements simply cannot be put to words.  Dou was a virtuoso in describing surfaces, a skill he likely learned in Rembrandt’s studio.  He painstakingly described every aspect of the dog, from its wiry fur, to the red on the inside corners of its eyes; from its wet nose with a slightly raw patch on the end, to the leathery texture of the bottom of its paws.
This astonishing and rare masterpiece is part of the travelling exhibition Golden: Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection that started in the Mauritshuis, The Hague in January, through to the Peabody Museum in Massachusetts, the MFA San Francisco, and closing in the MFA Houston in February 2012. Copies of the Exhibition Catalogue are available in the bookstore.
Image credit © Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection