Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery
March 9 through May 30, 2010
Gerrit Dou (1613–1675)
A Woman Playing a Clavichord
Oil on panel
Bourgeois Bequest, 1811
The son of a successful glassmaker in Leiden — second city to Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age — Dou was apprenticed to the young Rembrandt for three years during the latter’s residence there. By the 1640s he had established a reputation as Leiden’s leading portraitist and genre painter, renowned for his meticulous technique and skill at rendering the appearance of objects of all sorts.
The young woman seated at her clavichord is perhaps awaiting the arrival of a partner, who will accompany her on the viola da gamba at right. Amorousness is also suggested by the flask of wine cooling in the metal basin, the grapevine trailing over its rim, and the not-quite-empty glass on the table above. A golden afternoon light floods the paneled room, and a large decorated tapestry is lifted back to reveal the scene (this was a conceit that Vermeer would also employ).
Dou’s mesmerizing attention to surfaces and textures — he has even painted the nails in the floor — does not detract from the sense of ease and harmony that pervades this scene.
The exhibition, in the Frick’s Oval Room and Garden Court, is co-organized by Colin B. Bailey, Associate Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator at the Frick, and Xavier F. Salomon, Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator at Dulwich. A fully illustrated catalogue, written by Dr. Salomon, features an essay on the origins of the collection at Dulwich as well as comprehensive entries on the nine works.
Principal funding for the exhibition is provided by Christie's and Melvin R. Seiden.
Additional support is generously provided by John and Constance Birkelund, Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Eberstadt, Fiduciary Trust Company International, Barbara G. Fleischman, Francis Finlay, and Hester Diamond.
The accompanying catalogue is made possible by Jon and Barbara Landau.
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.