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Gerrit Dou, Portrait of a Young Woman

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Young Woman
Artist Gerrit Dou
Artist dates 1613 - 1675
Date made about 1655
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 14.5 × 11.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG968
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Young Woman
Gerrit Dou

This painting has in the past been described as a portrait of the painter’s wife, but we now know Gerrit Dou never married. Perhaps it was something about the intimacy and sensitivity of this tiny image which led people to assume that there was a relationship between the artist and the sitter.

Though we will probably never know the name of the subject, we can tell she comes from a wealthy family. She is wearing teardrop pearl earrings as well as a pearl necklace – jewellery which was fashionable, coveted and expensive at the time. Otherwise, however, she is dressed informally in an open-necked blouse and a fur-trimmed jacket which, though a sign of wealth, was commonly worn by women in the home. Dou specialised in minutely painted scenes of everyday life, and produced a small number of tiny portraits such as this.

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