Painting "The Dropsical Woman" by Gerard Dou
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Gerard Dou was a painter of surfaces above everything else. The marble basin and the brass chandelier, in his "Dropsical Woman", are just as important to him as the group of figures around the sick woman.
He cares quite as much for the one as for the other, and none of them is more than a something to reflect light or color a something that is characterized by its surface.
If one is prepared to deny the need for human emotion, thought, or feeling in art, if one accepts painting as a mere report of literal facts, then Dou must be accounted an artist of rank. He was a very accurate reporter, working in the spirit of a miniaturist, and producing panels that have all the minuteness of a miniature. He was painfully careful that nothing should escape him.
The stories told of his lack of success as a portrait-painter because no one would
give him as many sittings as he required; of the three days of work on the broom-handle, and the five days devoted to a lady's hand, a day each for a finger, all indicate that he was a painstaking workman in the infinitely little. Time was no more an object to him. Patience and conscientious endeavor were his cardinal virtues. He slaved over parts and their exact meaning; and in the end produced little more than the etymology of art. That he was skilled is quite apparent in his work.