Lot 45
  • 45

AFTER GERRIT DOU | An old woman reading

1,000 - 1,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Attributed to Gerrit Dou
  • An old woman reading
  • Unframed: 16 x 12.5 cm.; 6 1/2  x 4 7/8  in.
oil on oak panel, oval, unframed A later copy after Gerrit Dou's painting, of even smaller dimensions, in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden (inv. no. 1719; 12.5 x 9 cm.), datable to 'circa' 1635.1  In Dou's original work, and reproduced here in this copy, the artist has portrayed the old woman in merciless detail, her wrinkled skin and toothless mouth depicted without flattery. The fur-lined coat, hat, necklace, and even the pince-nez suggest a certain degree of prosperity, however, and the very fact of her reading reflects her position in prosperous 17th-century Holland, which nurtured a society of more highly educated individuals than almost any other region of Europe at this time. The subject of an old woman reading was a popular one with Dou and his contemporaries. The tradition may be said to have originated with Rembrandt's 'Portrait of an old woman reading' of 1631, now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.2 Rembrandt's painting has traditionally been identified as a portrait of his mother, and the close resemblance to the lady in Dou's work has led to the assumption that she may be the same model. Another interpretation is that all these pictures may portray the prophetess Hannah reading devoutly. 1 https://skd-online-collection.skd.museum/Details/Index/2710962 https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/SK-A-3066


All paintings available to view at the Sotheby’s Greenford Park warehouse, 5 - 7 and 10 – 13 September (10 - 4pm), by appointment. The panel is uncradled, flat and stable. The paint surface is quite dirty and the varnish slightly discoloured. There are visible spot retouchings in the lower section of the composition, most notably in the figure's skirt, as well as to an old loss along the upper edge. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals a thick, streaky varnish, underneath which the aforementioned retouchings are visible, but it is difficult to discern any additional intervention, bar a spot retouching in the figure's forehead.
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