The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  A Hermit
  • Gerrit Dou (1613 - 1675)
  • A Hermit
  • Netherlands
  • c. 1661
  • Painting
  • Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 32.1 x 23.7 cm
  • Signature: 'G DOU', the 'G D' in monogram
  • P170
  • East Galleries I
Further Reading
  • The son of a glass engraver, Dou was first apprenticed to his father. In 1628, he entered the studio of Rembrandt, where he remained until Rembrandt’s departure for Amsterdam in 1631. He then became an independent master and later, a founder of the Guild of St. Luke. He became one of the highest paid of all Dutch artists, owning four houses at the time of his death in 1675.
    In this picture, which once had a painted case inscribed 1661, the probable date of the painting, a hermit in monkish garb in a vaulted interior sits surrounded by vanitas symbols: reminders of the transience of worldly possessions and the inevitability of death, of which the skull is the most obvious, though the hourglass and candle also recall the brevity and fragility of human life. The hermit seeks spiritual solace in the everlasting truths of the Bible open before him.