Gerrit Dou was a master at painting in an extraordinarily detailed manner, also known as fine painting or fijnschilderij. Like Rembrandt, with whom he studied, Dou was fascinated by aged men and women. Leiden, where Dou lived and worked throughout his career, was the home of one of the most important universities in Europe, and Dou often depicted elderly scholars at work. With pen paused on the paper before him, this scholar sits at his desk, where an open book leans against a globe and skull. The books and the terrestrial globe are attributes of wisdom and knowledge, while the hourglass and skull were vanitas symbols that refer to the passing of time.
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