Dou studied under Rembrandt at an early time, quitting him in 1630, and like Maes was influenced by the quality of the work his master was producing at the time. With Dou this influence persisted throughout his whole life. He developed in the matter of elaboration, the crowding of detail, and a certain effort after picturesqueness. A favorite invention in this latter line was the trick of painting people at an open window seen from the outside, using the mouldings of the window as a sort of frame for the figure on the panel itself. He soon found it popular to add to this setting bas-reliefs and other architectural ornaments, vases of flowers, climbing vines, a bird cage, curtains, and one thing or another. These accessories occur in the Altman picture, in which the painter, when about forty years old, is shown standing back of a window, turning the leaves of a book with one hand and holding a palette and brushes with the other.
There is an eighteenth-century record of this work in the Voyer d’Argenson Collection in 1754. It is described in Smith’s Catalogue Raisonné as be-longing to the Chevalier Erard of Paris, who bought it in 1825 for 25,000 francs. It has since passed through the collections of Mr. Kalkbrenner and Mr. Say, of Paris, and so to its late owner.