Via an open curtain Dou affords us a glimpse of a luxurious interior. A maid dresses the hair of a chic young woman, whose face is reflected in the mirror. The open door of the birdcage that hangs above her may symbolise that she has lost her virginity.


  • Title: A Young Woman at her Toilet
  • Date Created: 1667
  • Physical Dimensions: w580 x h755 cm (Without frame)
  • Painter: Gerard Dou
  • Original Title: Jonge vrouw aan de kaptafel
  • More Info: Link - Read more about Golden Age - Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen - http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/disclaimer/
  • Artist Information: Gerard Dou studied with Rembrandt between 1628 and 1631/2. When Rembrandt left Leiden in 1631/32, Dou stayed behind and continued to live and work there. He mainly painted small and very refined scenes from daily life. He was one of the founders of the Leiden school of painting. In his time, he was one of the best paid artists, and in later times too his work remained popular.
  • Additional Artwork Information: Gerard Dou was one of the most sought-after and best-paid painters of his day. His work was greatly admired for its wealth of detail. A contemporary of his revealed that Dou would spend more than three days painting a single fingernail. Another visitor to his studio claims to have seen him at work with three pairs of spectacles balanced on the bridge of his nose. Dou specialized in small paintings with no more than a few figures. The Quack, however, is an exception. It is Dou’s largest painting by far, with fifteen figures in all. Among them, we see a peasant pushing a barrow containing vegetables, a pancake maker wiping her child’s bottom, and a fish merchant, blithely unaware that she is being robbed of her purse. The scene is set just outside the walls of the painter’s hometown, Leiden. Dou portrayed himself as well, leaning out of a window with a palette in his hand. He would surely have had a reason for placing himself beside the quack. Perhaps his idea was that both are masters of illusion: the bogus doctor deceives by selling useless remedies, the artist by suggesting a reality which is merely paint on a panel.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Donated by Henry Deterding 1936, http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/disclaimer/
  • External Link: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
  • Medium: Oil on panel

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