Dou was the most famous of the group of painters active in the city of Leiden, in the Dutch Republic, who were known as the fijnschilders (literally “fine” painters), who specialized in small-scale paintings full of minute detail and which concentrated on the faithful depiction of different surfaces and textures—a talent that is clearly evident in the Dulwich painting. Dou was the youngest son of a glass-engraver and from an early age trained in his father’s profession. It was this background that doubtless enabled the young Dou to develop his meticulous technique. He began his formal training as a painter in 1628 when he was sent to the studio of Rembrandt, remaining with the master for three years before completing his apprenticeship.
Dou’s meticulous style of painting was incredibly influential for both the Leiden painters and the renowned artist Johannes Vermeer, who soon after began to paint his own interior scenes showing women playing keyboard instruments, most notably "A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal," c. 1670-2 (The National Gallery, London).
Source: Helen Hillyard, "Gerrit Dou, A Woman Playing a Clavichord," in Smarthistory, September 14, 2016, accessed August 7, 2020.