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The Artist in their Studio

"Painter in his Studio" by Gerrit Dou

“Painter in his Studio” by Gerrit Dou

The Painter in their Studio

The Painter or Artist in their Studio is a popular subject in art.

“Painter in his Studio” by Gerrit Dou

“Painter in his Studio” by Gerrit Dou depicts either Rembrandt, who was Dou’s teacher, or it is a self-portrait.

The artist is presented as a learned and well-educated painter who has surrounded himself with attributes of the science and arts.

Gerrit Dou was the founder and head of the group of “Leiden Fine Painters.” The Fijnschilders (literally “fine-painters”), were Dutch Golden Age painters, from about 1630 to 1710.

They strove to create a natural reproduction of reality in their meticulously enamel-like small-scale works.

Gerrit Dou

Gerrit Dou (1613 – 1675), also known as Gerard and Douw or Dow, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, whose paintings were small but highly polished.

He specialized in genre scenes and is noted for his uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusions in paintings and candlelit night-scenes with strong chiaroscuro. He was a student of Rembrandt.

Painter in his Studio

  • Title:                           Painter in his Studio
  • Artist:                         Gerrit Dou
  • Year:                          1647
  • Medium:                    oil on oak
  • Dimensions:               Height: 43 cm (16.9 in); Width: 34.5 cm (13.5 in)
  • Museum:                   Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister


“Young Painter in his Studio” by Barent Fabritius

"Young Painter in his Studio" by Barent Fabritius

“Young Painter in his Studio” by Barent Fabritius

“Young Painter in his Studio” by Barent Fabritius depicts the artist’s brother Johannes Fabritius (1636 – 1707), the youngest of three Fabritius’s brothers.

It is a pictorial and free evocation of a painter at work. His style was influenced by his eldest brother Carel Fabritius (1622 – 1654), who was a pupil of Rembrandt and worked in his studio in Amsterdam.

Barent Fabritius

Barent or Bernard Pietersz Fabritius (1624 –  1673), was a Dutch painter. He studied with his brothers Johannes and Carel Fabritius, and probably with Rembrandt as well.

He was a painter of biblical subjects, mythical and historical scenes, in addition to expressive portraits.

“Young Painter in his Studio” by Barent Fabritius

  • Title:                            Young Painter in his Studio
  • Dutch:                         Jonge Schilder in een atelier
  • Artist:                          Barent Fabritius
  • Year:                            1660
  • Medium:                     oil on oak
  • Dimensions:               Height: 72 cm (28.3 in); Width: 54 cm (21.2 in)
  • Museum:                     Louvre Museum


“Painter in his Studio” by François Boucher

"Painter in his Studio" by François Boucher

“Painter in his Studio” by François Boucher

“Painter in his Studio” by François Boucher is a self-portrait of the young artist. Born in Paris, Boucher was the son of a lesser-known painter, who gave him his first artistic training.

At the age of seventeen, Boucher won the elite Grand Prix de Rome for painting but did not take up the opportunity to study in Italy until five years later, due to financial problems at the Académie.

On his return from studying in Italy, he was admitted to the refounded Académie in 1731.

His name, along with that of his patron Madame de Pompadour, had become synonymous with the French Rococo style:

“Boucher is one of those men who represent the taste of a century, who express, personify and embody it.”

François Boucher

François Boucher (1703 – 1770) was a French painter and etcher who worked in the Rococo style. Boucher is known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories, and pastoral scenes.

He was the most celebrated painter and decorative artist of the 18th century.

“Painter in his Studio” by François Boucher

  • Title:                              Painter in his Studio
  • Artist:                            François Boucher
  • Year:                              first half of 18th century
  • Medium:                       oil on panel
  • Dimensions:                  Height: 27 cm (10.6 in); Width: 22 cm (8.6 in)
  • Museum:                       Louvre Museum


“The Artist in his Studio” by Rembrandt

"The Artist in his Studio" by Rembrandt

“The Artist in his Studio” by Rembrandt

“The Artist in his Studio” by Rembrandt depicts the artist’s workshop, at the moment of confrontation between the artist and his canvas.

The easel assumes monumental dimensions, casting a shadow on the door. The canvas depicted in the painting is significantly larger than the actual canvas of this painting.

The artist wearing a wide-brimmed hat and smock and the canvas are the subject in the picture. The large panel on the easel has its back evocatively turned towards the viewer.

The theme of the artist in his studio was a popular one in seventeenth-century Dutch art. In contrast to most Dutch artists, Rembrandt depicts a bare room with the plaster cracked and peeling from its walls.


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 – 1669) was a Dutch painter and printmaker. He was an innovative and prolific master and one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history.

Rembrandt’s works depict a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, and biblical and mythological themes.

His contributions came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age. It was a time when Dutch art was extraordinarily prolific and innovative and gave rise to important new genres.

“The Artist in his Studio” by Rembrandt

  • Title:                    The Artist in his Studio
  • Artist:                   Rembrandt
  • Year:                    1628
  • Medium:              oil on panel
  • Dimensions:         Height: 24.8 cm (9.7 in); Width: 31.7 cm (12.4 in)
  • Museum:              Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


“The Painter in his Studio” by Adriaen van Ostade

"The Painter in his Studio" by Adriaen van Ostade

“The Painter in his Studio” by Adriaen van Ostade

“The Painter in his Studio” by Adriaen van Ostade depicts a painter sitting with his back to the viewer, in a dilapidated studio. The painter seated in a low chair while working at an easel, supporting his brush-holding hand with a maulstick.

In the background, a young apprentice is assisting him by grinding and mixing colors on the table at the far wall.

The studio is full of references to his education and intellectual interests, including prints, a plaster cast, a wooden model, props, animal skulls, and books.


A mahlstick, or maulstick, is a stick with a padded head used by painters to support the hand holding the paintbrush. The word derives from the German and Dutch Malstock or maalstok ‘painter’s stick,’ from malen ‘to paint.’

In 16th- through 19th-century paintings of artists, including self-portraits, the maulstick is often depicted as part of the painter’s equipment.

Adriaen van Ostade

Adriaen van Ostade (1610 – 1685) was a Dutch Golden Age painter of genre works. The number of Ostade’s pictures is about 900. At his death, he had over 200 unsold paintings.

He and his brother were pupils of Frans Hals and, like him, spent most of their lives in Haarlem.

“The Painter in his Studio” by Adriaen van Ostade

  • Title:                     The Painter in his Studio
  • Artist:                    Adriaen van Ostade
  • Year:                     1663
  • Medium:               oil on oak
  • Dimensions:          Height: 38 cm (14.9 in); Width: 35.5 cm (13.9 in)
  • Museum:               Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister


“Self-Portrait” by Catharina van Hemessen

"Self-Portrait" by Catharina van Hemessen

“Self-Portrait” by Catharina van Hemessen

“Self-Portrait” by Catharina van Hemessen depicts the artist when she was 20 years old. It is considered the first self-portrait of any artist depicted working at an easel.

Her father, Jan Sanders van Hemessen was a painter in Antwerp and her teacher. This portrait, created in 1548, shows the artist in the early stages of painting a portrait.

She was a successful painter, and her paintings can be found at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery, London, and the Kunstmuseum Basel.

Her paintings have a quiet dignity to them and tend to be small with plain dark backgrounds that provide no sense of location or space.

Catharina van Hemessen

Catharina van Hemessen (1528 – 1587) was a Flemish Renaissance painter. She is the earliest female Flemish painter for whom there are verifiable surviving artworks.

She is known for a series of small scale female portraits completed between the late 1540s and early 1550s and a few religious compositions.

“Self-Portrait” by Catharina van Hemessen

  • Title:                     Self-Portrait
  • Artist:                   Catharina van Hemessen
  • Year:                     1548
  • Medium:               tempera on oak panel
  • Dimensions:         Height: 32 cm (12.5 in); Width: 25 cm (9.8 in)
  • Museum:              Kunstmuseum Basel

The Artist in their Studio

To be added at a later date:

  • “Self-portrait at the easel” by Sofonisba Anguissola – Łańcut Castle
  • “Portrait of Eva Gonzalés in Manet’s studio” by Édouard Manet – National Gallery – London
  • “The Art of Painting” by Johannes Vermeer – Kunsthistorisches Museum
  • The Painter in his Studio by Adriaen van Ostade – Etching – Princeton University Art Museum
  • Painter in His Studio by Adriaen van Ostade – Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • The Painter in his Studio by Hendrik Gerritsz Pot – Kunstmuseum Den Haag
  • The Painter Monet in his Studio-boat by Edouard Manet – Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart
  • Self Portrait of the Artist in his Studio by Lars Gustaf Sellstedt – Albright–Knox Art Gallery
  • A painter in his studio by an anonymous pupil of Rembrandt – The Kremer Collection

A Tour of Famous Artists You Should Know

Women in the Arts


“Every artist was first an amateur.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Photo Credit: 1) Gerrit Dou / Public domain via Wikimedia Commons; Barent Fabritius / Public domain; François Boucher / Public domain; Rembrandt / Public domain; Adriaen van Ostade / Public domain; Catharina van Hemessen / Public domain

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