The Fijnschilders (literally "fine-painters"), also called the Leiden Fijnschilders ('Leidse Fijnschilders'), were Dutch Golden Age painters who, from about 1630 to 1710, strove to create as natural a reproduction of reality as possible in their meticulously executed, often small-scale works.
Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history roughly spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence.
Although in the seventeenth century, as in modern Dutch, the term fijnschilder was used to differentiate between a painter practicing classic techniques and one who, for instance, is a house painter, in the nineteenth century it became a label for artists like Gerrit Dou and his followers in Leiden. Dou, Frans van Mieris, Sr. and Adriaen van der Werff—all among the most successful of the Dutch Baroque—became identifiable by their "fine" manner, exquisite techniques, and extreme attention to detail resulting in works with smooth surfaces completely lacking painterly brush strokes. The application of paint contrasts with the textures and style of other Dutch painters, such as Frans Hals and Dou's teacher Rembrandt van Rijn. In this way they have more in common with earlier traditions in Netherlandish painting, such as the detailed richness of Jan van Eyck. Other artists working in the style include Godfried Schalcken, Quirijn van Brekelenkam and, at times, Gabriel Metsu.
Gerrit Dou, also known as Gerard and Douw or Dow, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, whose small, highly polished paintings are typical of the Leiden fijnschilders. He specialised in genre scenes and is noted for his trompe l'oeil "niche" paintings and candlelit night-scenes with strong chiaroscuro. He was a student of Rembrandt.
Leiden is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. The municipality of Leiden had a population of 123,856 in August 2017, but the city forms one densely connected agglomeration with its suburbs Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten and Zoeterwoude with 206,647 inhabitants. The Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) further includes Katwijk in the agglomeration which makes the total population of the Leiden urban agglomeration 270,879, and in the larger Leiden urban area also Teylingen, Noordwijk, and Noordwijkerhout are included with in total 348,868 inhabitants. Leiden is located on the Oude Rijn, at a distance of some 20 kilometres from The Hague to its south and some 40 km (25 mi) from Amsterdam to its north. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.
The fijnschilders are best known for genre scenes showing everyday life and activities, candle-lit nocturnal subjects, and trompe l'oeil "niche" paintings.
Frans van Mieris, the elder, was a Dutch Golden Age genre and portrait painter. The leading member of a Leiden family of painters, his sons Jan (1660–1690) and Willem (1662–1747) and his grandson Frans van Mieris the Younger (1689–1763) were also accomplished genre painters.
Godfried Schalcken or Gottfried Schalken was a Dutch genre and portrait painter. He was noted for his mastery in reproducing the effect of candlelight, and painted in the exquisite and highly polished manner of the Leiden fijnschilders.
Carel de Moor was a Dutch Golden Age etcher and painter. He was a pupil of Gerard Dou.
Willem van Mieris was an 18th-century painter from the Northern Netherlands.
Tenebrism, from Italian tenebroso, also occasionally called dramatic illumination, is a style of painting using profoundly pronounced chiaroscuro, where there are violent contrasts of light and dark, and where darkness becomes a dominating feature of the image. The technique was developed to add drama to an image through a spotlight effect, and was popular in Baroque painting. Tenebrism is used only to obtain a dramatic impact while chiaroscuro is a broader term, also covering the use of less extreme contrasts of light to enhance the illusion of three-dimensionality.
Franciscus Sylvius, born Franz de le Boë, was a Dutch physician and scientist who was an early champion of Descartes', Van Helmont's and William Harvey's work and theories. He was one of the earliest defenders of the theory of circulation of the blood in the Netherlands, and commonly falsely cited as the inventor of gin, others pin point the origin of Gin to Italy.
Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem, Dutch Golden Age painter and draughtsman, was one of the leading Northern Mannerist artists in the Netherlands, and an important forerunner of Frans Hals as a portraitist.
Theodoor Rombouts was a Flemish painter who is mainly known for his Caravaggesque genre scenes depicting lively dramatic gatherings as well as religiously-themed works. He is considered to be the primary and most original representative of Flemish Caravaggism.
Jacob Toorenvliet (1640–1719) was a Dutch Golden Age painter of genre works.
Pieter Cornelisz van Slingelandt was a Dutch Golden Age portrait painter who had been a pupil of Gerard Dou and is known as one of Leiden's fijnschilders..
Louis Bernard Coclers was a Southern Netherlandish portrait painter and engraver who worked mainly in Liège, Maastricht, Leiden and Amsterdam.
The Leiden Guild of Saint Luke refers to three artist collectives in Leiden; the Leidsche St. Lucas Gilde dating from 1648, the newer Leidse Tekenacademie established in 1694, and the collective known as Ars Aemula Naturae established in 1799.
Jacobus Josephus Eeckhout or Jacques Joseph Eeckhout was a Flemish painter, sculptor, pastellist, water-colourist and lithographer and a Director of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.
Merry company is the term in art history for a painting, usually from the 17th century, showing a small group of people enjoying themselves, usually seated with drinks, and often music-making. These scenes are a very common type of genre painting of the Dutch Golden Age and Flemish Baroque; it is estimated that nearly two thirds of Dutch genre scenes show people drinking.
Maria Schalcken (1645–1699), was a Dutch Golden Age painter. She was a sister and pupil of Godfried Schalcken.
Schalcken the Painter is a British television horror film based on the 1839 story "Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter" by Sheridan Le Fanu, and stars Jeremy Clyde as Godfried Schalcken and Maurice Denham as Gerrit Dou. It aired on the BBC as an episode of Omnibus on 23 December 1979, following in the tradition of A Ghost Story for Christmas.
John Smith (1781–1855) was a 19th-century British art dealer who developed the concept of the catalogue raisonné.