This extraordinary artist was born at Leyden, in 1613. He was the son of a glazier, and early exhibited a passion for the fine arts, which his father encouraged. He received his first instruction in drawing from Dolendo, the engraver. He was afterwards placed with Peter Kowenhoorn, to learn the trade of a glass-stainer or painter; but disliking this business, he became the pupil of Rembrandt when only fifteen years of age, in whose school be continued three years. From Rembrandt he learned the true principles of coloring, to which he added a delicacy of pencilling, and a patience in working up his pictures to the highest degree of neatness and finish, superior to any other master. He was more pleased with the earlier and more finished works of Rembrandt, than with his later productions, executed with more boldness and freedom of pencilling; he therefore conceived the project of combining the rich and glowing colors of that master with the polish and suavity of extreme finishing, and he adopted the method of uniting the powerful tunes and the magical light and shadow of his instructor with a minuteness and precision of pencilling that so nearly approached nature as to become perfect illusion. But though his manner appears so totally different from that of Rembrandt, yet it was to him he owed that excellence of coloring which enabled him to triumph over all the artists of his time. His pictures are usually of small size, with figures so exquisitely touched, and with a coloring so harmonious, transparent, and delicate, as to excite the astonishment and admiration of the beholder. Although his pictures are wrought up beyond the works of any other artist, there is still discoverable a spirited and characteristic touch that evinces the hand of a consummate master, and a breadth of light and shadow which is only to be found in the works of the greatest masters of the art of chiaro-scuro. The fame acquired by Douw is a crowning proof that excellence is not confined to any particular style or manner, and had he attempted to arrive at distinction by a bolder and less finished pencil, it is highly probable that his fame would not have been so great. It has been truly said that there are no positive rules by which genius must be bounded to arrive at excellence. Every intermediate style, from the grand and daring handling of Michael Angelo to the laborious and patient finishing of Douw, may conduct the painter to distinction, provided he adapts his manner to the character of the subjects he treats.