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The Cover
April 6, 2005

The Sick Child

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2005;293(13):1555. doi:10.1001/jama.293.13.1555

His life was brief, his oeuvre modest. In a lifetime of not even 40 years, he completed probably some 150 paintings, and most of these during the last 20 years of his life. In any century he would have been a star, but Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667) was fated to shine in a sky crowded with even brighter lights, not least his compatriot Rembrandt. Nearly a quarter of a century his junior, Metsu, like Rembrandt, was born and raised in Leiden, a thriving university center. Like Rembrandt, he also eventually settled in Amsterdam, an active commercial center where one might hope to have more opportunities as an artist. And he followed Rembrandt in death, being buried in Amsterdam just days after the Master had been laid to rest there. His style was different enough from that of Rembrandt to preclude any confusion among attributions, but nevertheless Metsu can lay at least some claim to Rembrandt’s artistic lineage: Gerrit Dou, the Dutch genre and portrait painter, had been taught by the young Rembrandt in Leiden; years later, still in Leiden, Dou would teach Metsu. For centuries Metsu has confounded art historians because, for whatever reason, he often failed to date his paintings. Scholars still scramble to sort them out in the hopes of establishing an accurate chronology and a picture of his development.

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