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Gabriel Metsu
(1629-1667)

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Gabriel Metsu was a Dutch painter, the son of Jacob Metsu, who lived most of his days in Leyden, where he was three times married. The last of these marriages was celebrated in 1625, and Jacomma Garnijers, herself the widow of a painter, gave birth to Gabriel in 1629.  

Metsu is believed to have been a pupil of the Dutch painter Gerrit Dou (Gerard Dow), and he helped found the guild of painters in Leyden in 1648. As such he was registered among the first members of the guild, and the registry of the guild confirm that he was still a member in 1649. By 1650 he ceased to subscribe, and works bearing his name after c.1653 suggest that he had then settled in Amsterdam, where he probably continued his studies under Rembrandt. Metsu became a citizen of Amsterdam in 1659, but died already in 1667, only 38 years old.  During his relatively short life and professional career he was inspired by such great artists as Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Frans Hals and Jan Vermeer, who all left a lasting impact on his work. 

Metsu painted the charming aspects of middle-class Dutch life with consummate taste in colour and tone. His works include "Mother nursing her Sick Child" (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), "Working Woman" (The Hermitage, St Petersburg); "Man Writing a letter", and "Woman reading a letter", (the latter two both in the National Gallery of Ireland), and all shown on postage stamps on this page.  .  

The Netherlands 1999. Gabriel Metsu. "Mother nursing her Sick Child".
  • The Netherlands 1999.  "Mother nursing her Sick Child", c. 1660, (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).

  • Burundi 1968. "Man Writing a Letter". Issued for the International Letter Writing Week 1968. 

  • USSR 1974.  "Working Woman", c. 1650 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg). 

Burundi 1968. Gabriel Metsu. "Man Writing a Letter". USSR 1974. Gabriel Metsu. "Working Woman".

The National Gallery of Ireland houses both the national collection of Irish art and the collection of European master paintings.  The painting collection spans the period from the 14th to the 20th centuries and includes all the major Continental schools. Irish painting is charted from its re-emergence in the 17th century through to the work of Jack B. Yeats, Ireland's most important 20th century artist.

The Italian School is the second most numerous in the Gallery's painting collection and contains one of the most distinguished collections of 17th century paintings outside Italy as well as early gilded altarpieces and Renaissance treasures by Fra Angelico, Mantegna and Titian. The French school contains 17th century, rococo, neoclassical, academic, Orientalist, plein-air, Impressionist and early 20th century works. The Spanish collection is predominately religious and includes work by El Greco. The British collection is strongly based on portraiture and includes many Irish sitters or connections.

The collection of Dutch 17th century masters includes works by Vermeer, Metsu, Hobbema and Ruisdael, all artists from the Baroque Era. The below two paintings are part of this collection.  

Ireland 2003. Gabriel Metsu. "Man Writing a Letter". Ireland 2003. Gabriel Metsu. "Woman Writing a letter".

Both stamps are part of a sheet of 16 containing four different art works, as well as in booklet panes of four, each pane containing a strip of 4 different stamps. 

Both of the two paintings are clearly inspired by Jan Vermeer in their composition and distinct usage of the Clair Obscure technique.  

The two other artists represented on the sheet are James Barry and Jean-Antoine Watteau.  

The difference in size of the four stamps on this page is remarkable.  They are all scanned at 200 dpi, and then scaled down to 75% to be shown here "medium-sized", so their proportional sizes are correctly shown.  

Here is an interesting cover, so huge that it cannot go fully into the scanner. It is sent from Dublin in Ireland to Copenhagen on 10th November 2003. It is franked with a full sheet containing the two above Metsu-stamps (the two vertical columns). My mailing address has been digitally removed. 

Gabriel Metsu. Cover sent November 2003 from Dublin to Copenhagen.

Other than the stamps shown on this page, Metsu-stamps have been issued by Ajman (2 stamps in 1971), Aitutaki (1979), German Democratic Republic (2 stamps in 1959 and 1978 respectively), Germany-Saar (1949), and Tchad (1972).  

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