Oil on panel (detail)
The Clark, 1955.716
Leaning over a stone window ledge with her hand braced upon its edge, Gerrit Dou’s young kitchen maid focuses her attention beyond the picture plane. Light from the upper left creates warm highlights on the silver flagon and angled shadows that fall against the stone. With her flushed cheeks and revealing neckline, the young woman charms and seduces as she seemingly enters into the viewer’s space. This clever pictorial invention—a kind of trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) effect—creates the deceptive appearance of reality. Artists and collectors in Leiden greatly admired Dou for his brilliant mastery of the brush, as well as his ability to reinterpret traditional subjects like the kitchen maid into a display of playful domesticity.