Century Magazine/Volume 50/Issue 3/Old Dutch and Flemish Masters. Gerard Terburg
he birth of Terburg, which took place at Zwolle, is fixed by recent discoveries as happening in 1617 instead of 1608, the hitherto commonly received date. Terburg’s parents were wealthy, and his father, who instructed him in drawing, was an amateur painter who had visited Italy in his youth. Gerard was soon placed under a teacher in Haarlem,—one Peter Molyn,—and it was not long before he there became a member of the Guild of St. Luke. While still a youth he visited England, and thence set out on further travels, passing through Germany into Italy, where he studied the works of the great Italians. Returning to Holland by way of France, he remained some time at Amsterdam, and learned much from the works of Rembrandt.
As he happened to be at Münster during the sitting of the memorable Peace Congress, he painted for his own pleasure the marvelous little picture of the "Ratification of the Treaty of Peace," which is now to be seen in the National Gallery at London. After the signing of the treaty in 1648, the Spanish minister at the imperial court took Terburg with him to Spain, and thus enabled the still young painter to see what the great Velasquez was doing. In two years he was back again in Holland, and finally settled at Deventer, where he married, and rose to the distinction of a member of the town council, in which character he has left us a portrait of himself, to be seen at The Hague museum. At Deventer he passed the remainder of his quiet life, and painted the majority of his works. His death took place in 1681, and he was buried at Zwolle, his native town, in accordance with the terms of his will.
Terburg ranks among the foremost of the genre painters of Holland, and he was the first to paint subjects taken from the wealthier classes of society—interiors in which richness of costume and drapery, and of all accompanying details, is rendered with exquisite feeling combined with realistic truth to nature. His pictures, which are among the rarities of European galleries (not more than eighty having been classified), are seldom composed of more than three figures, and often of only one, and represent scenes such as are in general termed "conversations"—parties at cards, gallantries, visits, etc. His ladies generally are dressed in white satin, which material he seemed fond of painting, and no one has ever been able to surpass him in this. The satin robe, indeed, appertains to Terburg. Terburg also painted portraits, generally on a very small scale, and these are full of distinction, and exhibit his finest qualities.