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Metsu, Gabriël

Leiden, 1629 - Amsterdam, 1667

He was the son of Jacques Metsu (1587/89–1629), a Flemish painter based in Leiden. In 1648, he played an active role in founding the Guild of Saint Luke in his native city. The records held at the guild’s register reveals that he left Leiden in 1650. He returned in 1654, and in 1657, he moved permanently to Amsterdam, where he remained until his death. In 1658, he married Isabella de Wolff, who was related to the classicist painter Pieter de Grebber (around 1600–1652/53). The following year, he was accepted as a citizen of Amsterdam. According to Houbraken, he was a pupil of Gerrit Dou (1613–1675), Leiden’s leading genre painter. The broad and fluid manner of the paintings created by Metsu in Leiden, however, bears no relation to the characteristic ‘fine’ style of Dou and the other painters of the city. Instead, it reveals a clear kinship with the painting of Jan Baptist Weenix (1621– around 1659/61). In the light of this fact, it is thought that he may have resided in Utrecht between 1650 and 1662. After moving to Amsterdam, where he apparently founded a drawing school, he gradually abandoned the genres that he had cultivated up until then, namely history paintings, religious paintings and market scenes. He also specialised in genre scenes and conversation piece portraits. Interestingly, paintings of this period show the detail and typical finish of the Leiden school. Besides, his style also reveals the influence from painters as diverse as Nicolaes Knüpfer (around 1603–1655) in the paintings he carried out in Leiden, or later, Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675), Gerard ter Borch (1617–1681) and Pieter de Hooch (1629–1684). Nevertheless, this influence is perceived randomly, making it very hard to determine the stylistic evolution of Metsu, despite many of his works having been dated (Posada, T. en: Pintura Holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, p. 255).

Artworks (1)

Dead Cockerel
Oil on panel, 1659 - 1660
Metsu, Gabriël


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