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When the English king Charles II saw this painting, he immediately invited Gerrit Dou to become his court painter in London. Dou, remaining true to his native city of Leiden, politely declined the offer, but from then on his name was internationally known.

This painting shows a comfortable interior. A young woman – her scissors poised to cut a piece of material – glances up from her sewing. At her feet, a girl looks at the baby in the cradle. Lying on the floor in the foreground we see a cooking pot, carrots and an overturned lantern.

In the 17th century a deeper meaning was often ascribed to such depictions. A woman sewing, for example, was associated with diligence and virtue, although the clutter in the room seems to contradict this interpretation. Behind the woman hang her husband’s cloak and sword. The relief of Cupid on the pillar could refer to marital love, the result of which is the child in the cradle.

Dou became famous for his painstaking precision and refined technique, which attracted many followers. He laid the foundation of the school known as the Leiden fijnschilders (‘fine painters’).

Gerrit Dou
'The young mother'
paneel (afgeronde bovenkant)
73.5 x 55.5 cm
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