Dou was a follower and apprentice to the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt. He often used the themes that Rembrandt painted for his own works. This piece, the Old Woman Reading a Bible (c.1630) is very similar to Rembrandt's own Old Woman Reading (1631). Dou was very similar to Rembrandt in style, he seems to be more detailed and meticulous in his execution. His scenes of domestic, bourgeois life were tremendously popular. The woman is in this painting seems to be sitting in near-darkness. She is reading a story from her Bible about the entry of Jesus into Jericho, an episode from the Gospel. The illustration in the Bible shows Simon the tax collector, who climbed a tree to observe the event. Jesus, who is shown looking up at him, went to the man's house despite his disciples' objections to his visiting a tax-collector, for the profession was considered corrupt. This story was very popular amongst Protestants, proving that sinners are saved by faith alone. Dou generally painted on a smaller scale than his contemporary Rembrandt, manifested here as a single women with a face that is incredibly smooth, another trademark of his. Dou was finicky about his tools and working conditions, and harbored a hatred of dust. Sometimes of his pictures were painted with the aid of a magnifying glass. This domestic interior is well-known for him, as is the use of artificial light, common among the Dutch of the time. You can see the light as definitely surreal and artificial in this painting. Pieter de Hooch:
Unlike Dou, de Hooch's works resembled Vermeer's rather than Rembrandt's. He was also noted for his small-scale scenes of bourgeois life. Many of them were outdoors, or he used the artificial light that was so common among painters of the time. He preferred to paint rooms opening into other rooms or to the outdoors because he loved to play with lighting effects, and his skills were advanced enough to handle this. Like Dou, the warm, subtle colors do show...
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